What remained of Melvin Gordon’s leverage with the Los Angeles Chargers took a big blow on Sunday.
Austin Ekeler had a huge day that included the game-winning touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts and reinforced the team’s stance that its backfield can thrive with or without its Pro Bowl running back.
Ekeler tallied 58 rushing yards, 96 receiving yards and three total touchdowns in an effort that should have Chargers management and his fantasy owners beaming.
Where do things stand with Melvin Gordon?
Gordon, meanwhile, is still holding out after the Chargers announced they were done negotiating last week.
“We have to get focused on the season and our next opponent,” general manager Tom Telesco told reporters. “So when or if Melvin reports, he'll play this season on his current contract, and we'll just revisit it after the season.”
That focus Telesco spoke of included a heavy does of Ekeler with an effective sprinkling of Justin Jackson, the second-year running back who tallied 57 rushing yards on just six carries Sunday.
Will Gordon’s holdout follow Le’Veon Bell’s path?
For one week, at least, it proved a successful formula and points to a situation that looks more like Le’Veon Bell’s with the Pittsburgh Steelers last season than Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout that ended with a rich new deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Steelers discovered a new Pro Bowl running back in James Conner last season and stood fast in refusing to give Bell a rich new contract.
It’s only one game, but Ekeler flashed Pro Bowl potential in Sunday’s win playing in loaded Chargers offense. Regardless, the Chargers remain clearly intent on declining to entertain a contract extension with Gordon, a 25-year-old four-year veteran on his rookie deal looking to cash in while he’s in his prime.
Holdout could last until November
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported early Sunday that Gordon’s holdout could continue into November, where Gordon may be compelled to report to avoid missing a deadline that would cost him his shot at unrestricted free agency in 2020.
This appears the most likely scenario outside of a trade if Gordon is intent on protecting his body without a big payday, much like Bell was last year.
If Sunday is any indication, the Chargers will be satisfied with their backup plan in the meantime.
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