It’s been quite the week for Melvin Gordon.
The Los Angeles Chargers running back initially made headlines when he openly proclaimed that he wants to either be paid like a franchise back (he’s currently on his fifth-year option season with the Chargers) or traded away from Los Angeles. Those are bold cards to play in the middle of July.
We compared Gordon’s career productivity to that of Ezekiel Elliott’s for the simple reason that if Gordon gets paid, the running back market will likely rise. Considering that Elliott has a résumé which trumps Gordon’s, that would be very good for Zeke.
Never mind that Gordon himself once wanted to play for the Cowboys, he’s now openly talking about the team. During an appearance at GoSportsCon on Saturday he elaborated on how he views the running back position. In his opinion it shouldn’t be devalued and is actually the second-hardest position to play after quarterback.
Gordon describes his point in that you can replace an “average” running back somewhat easily but that truly elite players at the position (like Zeke and in his own words, plus those of many others, himself) don’t exactly fit into that mold. Obviously, the better a player is at any position the harder it is to replace them, but to say that running backs aren’t properly devalued screams of bias (in Gordon’s defense, he is a running back).
Look, nobody is saying that running backs aren’t important at all. If you can have a player of Zeke or Gordon’s caliber at the position versus not having one then the answer is simple. You want the best possible players at every position all the time. Duh.
What people are saying though is that running back is the most easily replaceable position across the game of football. Finding a quarterback (obviously), star wide receiver, elite offensive lineman, edge rusher, lockdown cornerback, and so on, are all significantly more difficult than finding a running back who can do things well.
Consider the elite runners in the game today. Elliott and Gordon are both on rookie contracts (a matter that Gordon wants corrected, to be fair). Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and Kareem Hunt (before everything that happened to him did) were all products of just the 2017 draft class two years ago. Le’Veon Bell just got his first big-time deal that wasn’t a franchise tag, and Todd Gurley has Rams fans questioning his just one year into it.
There’s a case for paying running backs, there really is. It just happens to be a small case that applies to unique situations. Perhaps you feel that the Cowboys or Chargers are in one of them. Gordon clearly knows how he feels.