Will the Broncos trade Melvin Gordon before the NFL trade deadline?

With rookie RB Javonte Williams coming into his own, will the Denver Broncos trade Melvin Gordon ahead of the 2021 NFL trade deadline?

Denver Broncos RB Melvin Gordon III has been a trade candidate since this offseason when the franchise selected his successor in the 2021 NFL Draft, Javonte Williams. Although Williams has been stellar as a rookie, Gordon is no slouch. However, will the Broncos trade Gordon ahead of the 2021 NFL trade deadline?

Why should the Broncos trade Melvin Gordon?

After five long yet disappointing years with the Los Angeles Chargers (two when they were still in San Diego), Gordon signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the AFC West rival Broncos in 2020. In his first season in Denver, the veteran running back popped off for one of the best campaigns of his career. He took 215 carries for 986 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and 9 touchdowns. Gordon also hauled in 44 receptions but could only muster 158 yards and 1 TD.

So, why is he constantly in trade rumors? Well, despite his solid first year, the Broncos won a whopping five games. Running backs are just not as valuable as they used to be in the NFL. Additionally, Gordon currently holds the third-highest cap hit among RBs in 2021 — behind only Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkley. Denver is 3-4 and could easily end up 3-5 before the trade deadline. At that point, it may be best to plan for the future and gain draft capital.

Javonte Williams is the future

Knowing their 29-year-old lead back would be a free agent in 2022, the Broncos drafted his heir apparent from North Carolina. Denver has not been shy about giving Williams opportunities. Gordon currently leads the rookie in snaps (248 to 203) and touches (94 to 89), but the margin is narrow. Furthermore, Williams has been the superior back. His 4.6 yards per carry only best Gordon by 0.1, but Williams is making more defenders miss and gaining more yards after contact.

Head coach Vic Fangio and Co. are obviously fans of their new RB. The only thing stopping them from giving Williams the keys to the backfield is Gordon. In the end, Gordon is an aging and expensive running back that is taking valuable snaps away from an impressive rookie. Moreover, with RB injuries piling up around the league, there should be no shortage of suitors. Add in the fact that his contract is expiring, and why wouldn’t Denver trade Gordon?

Potential landing spots

Which teams should take a shot on trading for Gordon?

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins were rumored to be interested in Gordon two offseasons ago. Is there still an ember where the fire burned? Miami is rolling with Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed as their lead backs, with Malcolm Brown now on injured reserve. They are 1-6, and Brian Flores’ seat may be feeling a bit toasty.

While the Deshaun Watson trade rumors will get most — if not all — of the attention, don’t be surprised if the Dolphins send a later-round pick for Gordon to bolster their RB depth chart. Cap space would be the most difficult part of the trade, considering Miami doesn’t have a lot of it, but that hasn’t stopped franchises before.

New York Giants

Saquon Barkley can’t seem to stay healthy, and while Devontae Booker isn’t terrible, Gordon is the better option. New York is last in the division at 2-5, but it’s the NFC East where Washington and Philadelphia sport the paltry same record. Daniel Jones is playing at the highest level of his career with a plethora of weapons — albeit injured ones — at his disposal. Throw Gordon into the mix, and the G-Men may have a puncher’s chance of sneaking into the playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers

This is the absolute last thing fantasy managers want. Kyle Shanahan already deploys an RB-by-committee approach, though rookie Elijah Mitchell seems to be the lead man when healthy. Raheem Mostert is done for the season, and Jeff Wilson Jr. is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Behind Mitchell are JaMycal Hasty, Trey Sermon, and Trenton Cannon. The fact that Mitchell, a sixth-round pick, has usurped Sermon, a third-round rookie, on the depth chart does not bode well for the latter’s odds of seeing the field. In fact, Sermon is currently listed as the RB3 behind Hasty as well.

Seattle Seahawks

With Chris Carson out with a neck injury, the Seahawks have to rely on Rashaad Penny (who just returned from IR himself), Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas, and Travis Homer. While Collins has been serviceable (if not more) filling in, the depth behind him is suspect. Pete Carroll loves to pound the rock — except from the 1-yard line, under the brightest lights, and with Beast Mode in the backfield, but I digress. Seattle would gladly ship a fifth-rounder or less for a viable body in the RB room.

Tennessee Titans

Running back is one of the more replaceable positions in the NFL — if you are outside of Tennesee, that is. Derrick Henry is likely done for the season with a foot injury, dragging the Titans’ offense with him. In an effort to stop the bleeding, Tennessee went out and signed … 36-year-old Adrian Peterson. He and Jeremy McNichols are not the answer. You know who could be? Gordon.

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