Running back Melvin Gordon waved the white flag on Thursday, reportedly deciding to end his 64-day holdout and rejoin his Los Angeles Chargers teammates ahead of their Week 4 game against the floundering Miami Dolphins.
Far from becoming the latest NFL star to bend his team to his will, Gordon bet on himself and lost – bigtime.
Here’s how much the failed holdout will end up costing him in fines and lost salary.
Melvin Gordon Bet on Himself and Lost Millions
According to ESPN, the Chargers can fine Gordon $30,000 for every day he skipped training camp, as well as a week’s regular-season salary for each preseason game he missed.
NFL teams don’t have to fine players, but they typically do to deter future holdouts. Reports indicate that the Chargers will pursue those fines from Gordon.
That’s $2.2 million in fines alone, but that’s not all that Gordon lost when he went bust at the holdout casino.
He must also forfeit a hair more than $329,705 for every regular-season game he missed, for a total of $989,118 in lost base salary.
Altogether, Melvin Gordon will cough up nearly $3.2 million in fines and lost salary.
And what did he gain? Very little.
The Chargers Always Held the Cards
Though he nominally had permission to seek a trade, Jeremy Fowler reported that the Chargers weren’t eager to accommodate his desire to play elsewhere.
Why? Because they held all the leverage.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell refused to play under a franchise tag, sat out the entire 2018 season, and was ultimately rewarded by the New York Jets with a contract that at the time made him the NFL’s second-highest-paid running back (Ezekiel Elliott’s monster deal pushed him into third).
Gordon, in contrast, is still playing on the final year of his rookie contract, and he would not have been eligible for free agency if he sat the 2019 season out.
The Chargers Called Gordon’s Bluff – and Balled Out
Moreover, while the Chargers are just 1-2 without Gordon, the team’s running game hasn’t suffered in his absence.
The Chargers have averaged 112 yards on the ground per game, and interim starting running back Austin Ekeler has 368 total yards (160 yards rushing, 208 yards receiving) along with four total touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon III is expected to end his holdout and return to the @Chargers Thursday.
Between 2015-18 Gordon III accounted for 58% of the teams rushing yards.
However, this season Austin Ekeler is one of two players with at least 150 rushing & receiving yards (Kamara). pic.twitter.com/sdtpF1lwES
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 25, 2019
Far from twisting the Chargers into trading him or awarding him a fat new contract, Gordon now risks losing touches to Ekeler, especially if he fails to quickly shake off the rust when he returns to practice.
That won’t do him any favors when he does hit the free agent market in the offseason.