Unlike Hannibal from the 1980s hit television show "The A-Team" -- showing my age a bit here, unapologetically -- the plan is not coming together for Melvin Gordon. The Pro Bowl running back opted to hold out of training camp and the beginning of the 2019 season because he felt the reported $10 million per year offer from the Los Angeles Chargers didn't match his value, joining in with Ezekiel Elliott to make the point halfbacks matter, too.
Dallas Cowboys, as well as the difference in talent itself, and what Gordon means to the Chargers offense, though, so -- there was no indication Gordon would get anywhere near those numbers. Still, he persisted, to the point where the Chargers officially called off all contract talks with him before the start of the regular season and washed their hands on attempting to get anything done in 2019.of Elliott to the
Truly dug in at that point, Gordon opted to remain absent for several games before waving the white flag on his efforts on Sept. 25.
The Chargers were 1-2 at that point and it seemed they could use the added oomph Gordon could potentially provide, but the antithesis has ultimately occurred. After being inactive in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins, Gordon would participate in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos, but his play has been devolved from a minimal contribution to a reason the team lost at least one game this year, when he fumbled on the goal line in the waning seconds against the Titans -- securing the 23-20 victory for Tennessee.
In the three games following his return from an ill-advised holdout, Gordon has rushed for only 81 yards with no touchdowns and two fumbles, and he averages a lowly 2.25 yards per handoff while having rushed for only two first downs this season. It also bears mentioning that as the Chargers flounder, their only two wins of the season have come without Gordon in the lineup.
It's all beginning to take a toll on him emotionally, which showed after he failed to hold onto the ball against the Titans.
"It's an emotional game, and one thing I hate most about [Sunday against the Titans] is I let you all see me sweat and showed emotion out there," he told The Los Angeles Times. "But I hate letting my teammates down more than anything. We're in a position right now where every win counts, every game counts, and I was a little bit more frustrated about that rather than anybody else's opinion, just the guys.
"We fought back to try to get back to win that game and putting the ball in my hands to win the game, which I've been in that situation so many times, and just come up short."
To be fair, the issues in Los Angeles branch out farther than Gordon, be it with questionable coaching decisions and a slew of injuries to starters on both sides of the ball, but there's no denying Gordon is one of the root issues. He's even prepared to admit it, along with the negative impact having missed training camp and games to start the season is having on what was supposed to be the best year of his young career, having instead become a nightmare scenario as he tries to establish himself for a big payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in a few months.
"We've just got to play better as a group [but also] just me, I could be a lot better," he said. "You can't emulate the game, game day. I don't care how many reps you do on a high school football field it can never compare to what you get on game day. So I knew coming in, just the game speed and things like that, to get my feet wet a little bit, I knew it would take some time."
At one point Gordon was ironclad in his decision to miss camp to push the contract issue, but he's now facing a rapidly declining value after waving off the Chargers final offer, and it remains to be seen if he can rebuild his brand in the remaining games to the point any team would be willing to fork over anything near $10 million per year.
"I know I won't miss another training camp again, I can tell you that," he said. "But if I was to go back, I can't say. Just with the running back thing and all that, we want to get paid, you know. I don't know.
It's clear Gordon overplayed his hand this offseason, and now the deck is stacked against him in a major way.