Now that he has ended his holdout, was it even worth it for Melvin Gordon?
A fairly surprising storyline surfaced late in the offseason, when it came out Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon would not report to training camp absent a contract extension. With one year left on his contract, and replacements they were willing to rely on if necessary, the team held all the best cards. Gordon’s only piece of leverage was withdrawal of his services.
The Chargers gave Gordon permission to seek a trade, but to this point nothing has come to fruition on that front. General manager Tom Telesco also made the team’s stance on a new deal for Gordon clear if it wasn’t already, officially postponing any contract talks until after the season as Week 1 approached.
If Gordon wanted to get credit for the 2019 season and hit free agency next March, he would have had to report at some point. It was only a matter of when he came in, and on Thursday he indeed showed up earlier than expected with his season debut likely coming in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos.
Ultimately Gordon did not get a new contract that’s to his satisfaction from the Chargers, after reportedly declining an offer of around $10 million per year, and he was not traded. So there’s now an obvious question.
Was a holdout even worth it?
Gordon is making $5.6 million this year, the final year of his rookie contract. Off the top, according to Pro Football Talk, he has missed three game checks worth a total of $989,100 ($329,700 per week). The Chargers can fine him $30,000 for each day of training camp he missed, as well as the amount of a full regular season game check for each preseason game he missed. Those totals come in at $390,000 for the missed camp days and $1.318 million for the four preseason contests, for a total of $1.708 million.
By holding out, Gordon also missed $2,000 in daily per diem from the start of training camp through one week prior to the season opener. That’s 37 days, per the CBA provision being applied, and another $74,000 lost.
Without any fines being levied, Gordon’s holdout will cost him $1.063 million (18.9 percent of his base salary). Add in the fines, and it becomes $2.771 million lost (49.4 percent of his base salary). If the Chargers choose to collect all of those fines, which is well within their right even if it comes off as harsh, Gordon will surrender nearly half of what he’s scheduled to make this year. All to take a stand that didn’t change anything.
Gordon did save wear and tear on his body, and he avoided injury risk from training camp through three (and probably four) regular season games. But was that worth possibly risking nearly half of what he’ll make this season? The answer to that has to be no, but that’s what happens when a player holds out and has no real leverage in his corner. When it came down to it, as expected all along, Gordon blinked first.