- Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards last season.
- Melvin Gordon missed four games for the Los Angeles Chargers last season and the team went 4-0 in those contests.
- Gordon scored 10 touchdowns last season and had the third-best carry-to-touchdown mark, scoring once every 17.5 carries.
Two prominent, Pro Bowl NFL running backs are holding out of training camp. Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon are both avoiding the action as they hope to land new contract extensions. Will we see extended holdouts again like we did with Le’Veon Bell last season or will either report? Let’s take a closer look.
Which Running Back Will Report to Current Team First?
*Odds taken August 5, 2019
Elliott Favored to Return First
The oddsmakers have Elliott posted as a -300 favorite to make it back to the team before Gordon gets back to his. That’s because Elliott’s situation has been far more position.
Elliott plays for the Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones is known to pony up for his star players. Even though running backs are overvalued these days – and Jones himself has admitted that – the feeling is that Jones will sweeten his deal.
On the other hand, the Los Angeles Chargers aren’t even entertaining the idea of sweetening the pot for Gordon, which gives the impression that the two sides are further apart. Gordon has actually demanded a trade and the front office couldn’t care less at this point.
Both players could hold out for a long time but the Elliott situation seems far more positive. That’s why I expect him to show up before Gordon.
Will Ezekiel Elliott Play for the Cowboys in Week 1?
Will Elliott Miss Games?
It started off somewhat harmlessly but we’re now into the second week of training camp and the latest word from Elliott’s side is that he could miss regular season games. Owner Jerry Jones continues to vacillate between getting a deal done and saying he’s not scared to shake things up.
The positive view here is that Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said that the Todd Gurley deal is the starting point for the Elliott contract back in February, so that already should make Zeke happy. Maybe he’s shooting for the moon beyond the four-year, $60 million Gurley received but this seems like a fair offer.
The Cowboys have plenty of cap room ($24 million) and to be fair, Elliott has little leverage. This isn’t another Le’Veon Bell situation because Bell wasn’t under contact last year (didn’t sign his franchise tag). Elliott is signed so if he sits out, he’ll make the same $3.853 million next year and his fifth-year option would still follow.
My money is on Elliott getting back to the Cowboys before Week 1. The odds have gotten shorter that he’ll be there. He’s the focal point of the offense and he should have a new contract by then.
Will Melvin Gordon Play for the Chargers in Week 1?
Will Gordon’s Holdout Extend?
The difference with Gordon is not only in the tone of the language between the team and the player, it’s that he’s on his fifth-year option. That means as long as he plays this year, he’ll be a restricted free agent next year. On one hand, it gets him closer to free agency. On the other, the Chargers can still slap him with a franchise tag.
The Chargers do have an offer on the table for Gordon at about $10 million per year but he wants Gurley money, which is the neighborhood of $15 million per year. Bell just signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Chargers to pay Gordon as much as Gurley.
Beyond that, Gordon isn’t the straw that stirs the drink for the Chargers offense. Quarterback Philip Rivers already undercut him saying that “we’re going to go with what we’ve got.” And the team does have Austin Ekeler and youngsters Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome. They’re comfortable.
Melvin Gordon vs. Austin Ekeler (2017-18):
– Early-down success rate on runs: AK 35%, MG 26%
– Success rate on all runs: AK 35%, MG 28%
– Success rate on all targets: AK 45%, MG 35%
– Success rate on all opportunities: AK 39%, MG 29%
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) July 27, 2019
At this point, I’d bet that Gordon does, in fact, miss Week 1 with the Chargers just because we’re not seeing any positives coming from this situation. The Chargers aren’t budging and Gordon’s camp has called the offers insulting and demanded a trade. It’s not looking good for Gordon playing in Week 1 as of this moment.