“Man it’s hard for me to sit here and put this into words but after careful consideration I’ve made the decision to retire from the NFL. This journey has been unbelievable! I’ve been blessed to have been able to play this game since I was 7 years old. Playing in the NFL has been a dream come true and this game has taught and given me so much.”
Burwell signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2015, and though he was a victim of final cutdowns in September of that year, he was signed to the club’s practice squad shortly thereafter. He ultimately suited up for nine games in his rookie campaign, and five more in 2016, seeing minimal snaps in both seasons.
He was waived by the Bolts in September 2017 and then joined the Colts’ practice squad. He played in one game for Indianapolis that year, the last time he would see regular season action.
The Colts cut him last September, and the Eagles signed him to a reserve/futures contract in January. He was obviously a long shot to make Philadelphia’s 53-man roster.
In examining the contract impasse between the Chargers and running back Melvin Gordon, both Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com emphasize one factor that has been largely overlooked in other reports and opinions concerning Gordon’s threat to sit out the entire season: if Gordon makes good on his threat, his contract would toll and he would still be under club control in 2020 at the same salary he would earn in 2019. So Gordon really doesn’t have a ton of leverage here, which is why Fitzgerald believes the 2015 first-round pick will ultimately be on the field come Week 1 regardless of whether he has a new deal in place.
Fitzgerald notes that Gordon does not fit neatly into either the top tier of the league’s running backs, who have contracts paying at least $13MM per season, or into the second tier, which tops out at an AAV of $8.25MM. Fitzgerald believes that, if the Chargers want to keep Gordon for the long haul — which is still up in the air at this point — the two sides will come together on a pact that pays Gordon around $10MM per season.
Extension-eligible for the past 18 months, Melvin Gordon changed his course of action this week in threatening a holdout and a pay-or-trade ultimatum. The fifth-year Chargers running back, however, wants this standoff to end with him signed long-term in Los Angeles.
“I want to end up with the Chargers. That’s my home,” Gordon said during an interview in Dallas at SportsCon 2019 (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk). “I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘Man, I don’t want to go back to the Chargers, dah, dah, dah.’ Like that’s the team that blessed me with an opportunity. They started my life. They changed my life. Of all 32 teams, that was the team that called me. I can’t forget them for that.”
“It’s an opportunity right now where I know I need to take advantage of it. You know, I want to get paid,” Gordon said. “That’s just kind of what it is. … I’m prepared to do what I need to do. That’s just what it’s going to be.”
The two-time Pro Bowler has strung together three seasons with at least 12 touchdowns, and his 2018 campaign featured a career-best 5.1 yards per carry. But Gordon has also missed games due to injury in three of his first four seasons and finished his first three with sub-4.0 YPC averages.
The Chargers may force him to prove it this season, though with running backs possessing diminished shelf lives, that would obviously conflict with Gordon’s timetable. Gordon’s 1,079 touches since 2015 are the second-most in football — behind only Gurley’s 1,229. Gordon is also a year older than his Los Angeles ball-carrying counterpart.
“My guess is as good as yours right now,” Gordon said on where his extension talks stand. “We’re going to give them some time and see where it heads. We’ve still got some time out before training camp. But hopefully things get figured out.”
Last fall, when Sports Illustrated (Twitter link) spent a day with Gordon and his family, the running back was asked about his take on the Le’Veon Bell situation. Gordon’s father asked his son if he thought Bell would really sit out the entire year and the running back responded: “I would, too.”
“Come back and get hurt?,” Gordon asked, rhetorically. “Gave y’all everything he had for about five, six years. Y’all can’t pay the man?”
Gordon, meanwhile, has given the Chargers four years of service, including two Pro Bowl seasons. And, last year, he took a major step forward with an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
It’s debatable as to whether Bell’s stance paid off. Bell gave up $14.5MM on the Steelers’ 2018 franchise tag before signing a four-year, $52.5MM contract with $27MM fully guaranteed. It’s not quite the payday he had in mind, but a catastrophic injury would have prevented him from signing anything in that neighborhood.
If Gordon misses games, he’ll sacrifice roughly $330K per week, representing 1/17th of his $5.6MM salary.
The saga between the Chargers and running back Melvin Gordon could drag on for a while. There’s a “strong possibility” Gordon could sit out into the regular season unless he gets a new market-value deal, agent Damarius Bilbo tells Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). For what it’s worth, Bilbo did soften the threat a bit.
“But we want to focus on getting something done before training camp,” Bilbo said. “There’s a long way to go to Week 1.”
If Gordon’s holdout extends to the regular season, he’ll lose out on roughly $330K per week, representing 1/17th of his $5.6MM salary. Staying away from the club could reinforce his importance to the Chargers’ offense, though there’s a risk of backup Austin Ekeler shining in his absence. Last year, Ekeler was a revelation for the Chargers as well as points-per-reception fantasy football players – he finished out with 5.2 yards per carry on a limited sample and 39 catches for 404 yards out of the backfield.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has informed the team that unless he receives a new contract, he will not report to training camp and he will demand a trade, agent Fletcher Smith tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Gordon has been pushing for a new deal, but this is a previously unforeseen development for the Los Angeles star.
Gordon, one of the league’s premier running backs, has already built up quite the odometer at the age of 26. With more than 1,000 carries on his resume, the former first-round pick is looking to cash in as he enters his contract year. For now, Gordon is slated to count for a $5.6MM cap figure before (potentially) reaching free agency after the 2019 season.
The Chargers, in theory, hold the leverage. After ’19 – Gordon’s fifth-year option season – the Bolts can assign the franchise tag to Gordon for the 2020 season, once more for 2021, and theoretically do it for a third time in 2022, though the rate for a third tag would be a cap killer. With his threat of a holdout and possible trade demand, Gordon might be able to even things out.
For Gordon, a new deal would mean a significant pay bump, as well as fiscal certainty. The running back position is especially dangerous and every player in the league is eager for guarantees with a new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon.
We examined Gordon’s case for an extension back in March. At the time, we noted that GM Tom Telesco is open to considering an extension for Gordon, but that Telesco did not offer a timetable for getting a deal done.
Gordon does not have eye-popping YPC numbers in his career (he has averaged 4.0 yards per carry over his four professional seasons), but he did manage 5.1 yards per tote in 2018. He is also a major weapon as a receiver, compiling over 400 receiving yards in each of the past three seasons. He has 28 rushing touchdowns and 10 receiving scores in his career, and he was a key part of the Chargers’ return to the postseason last year.
As a result, the Wisconsin product stands to cash in and will surely be paid at the high end of the running back market. Todd Gurley is currently the pacesetter with an average annual value of $14.375MM and $45MM in guarantees, while Le’Veon Bell recently landed a $13.125MM/year pact. The Cardinals’ David Johnson is now working under a $13MM/year deal that includes $32MM in guarantees.
Since 2016, Gordon has been at the top of the RB heap. Over the last three seasons, he has 28 rushing touchdowns (second most in the NFL), ten receiving touchdowns (fourth-most amongst running backs), and 38 touchdowns from scrimmage (second-most in the NFL).
The NFL’s Supplemental Draft order does not go by the inverted win/loss records of clubs. Instead, the order is dictated by a weighted lottery that uses a team’s win percentage as just part of the equation. Here, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) is the complete order of the supplemental draft:
The supplemental draft is conducted via email. If multiple teams submit a pick for the same player in the same round, this order dictates which club gets the player. Of course, any team picking a player in the supplemental draft will sacrifice the corresponding pick in the 2020 draft.
It happens every year. A handful of top-tier teams will inevitably miss the playoffs. In 2018, a staggering seven teams who made the postseason in 2017 missed it the following season. So which of the 2018 playoff squads will underperform and miss the tournament in 2019?
The Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl champions, haven’t missed the postseason since 2008, when Tom Brady missed most of the season with an injury. The team has also produced double-digit wins in every campaign since 2002. Though they seem like a lock to extend that streak, the aforementioned Brady isn’t getting any younger, Rob Gronkowski retired following 2018 and the team’s defensive coaching staff is being headed by head coach Bill Belichick after the departure of Brian Flores to Miami and a deal with Greg Schiano fell through. Though the AFC East is perennially one of the worst in football, the Bills, Dolphins and Jets all have young quarterbacks who could take the next step and challenge New England in 2019.
The Ravens surprised in 2018, using an opportunistic defense and an unorthodox rookie signal-caller in Lamar Jackson to roll to a 10-6 record and a spot in the postseason. With an offseason to build the offense around its young quarterback, the Ravens could take another step in 2019. Or they could take a step back as opposing defenses catch onto the team’s run-heavy schemes. The Steelers are also due for a bounce back and the Browns have overhauled their roster in recent years to make a push not only for the playoffs, but for a Super Bowl run.
The Texans, the AFC South division champions, and the Colts, a Wild Card squad, have squads loaded with young talent. Houston boasts a loaded offense behind Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, and a strong defensive unit led by J.J. Watt. The Colts caught fire down the stretch, winning nine of their final 10 games to advance to the postseason. The team also fields the reigning Comeback Player of the Year (Andrew Luck) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Darius Leonard). Though both teams should be strong again in 2019, only one can win the division, leaving the other to compete for one of the two Wild Card spots.
A pair of Super Bowl favorites, the Chiefs and Chargers both won 12 games in 2018 and are stacked with talent to inflate that number in 2019. Though the field the league’s MVP in Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have had a tumultuous last few months that has seen the departure of running back Kareem Hunt and legal troubles for Tyreek Hill. Though stacked on both sides of the ball, the Chargers have posted just one double-digit win season since 2009. Again, only one squad can win the division.
In the NFC, both the Cowboys and Eagles appear to be the class of the East, with solid quarterbacks in Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott leading the charge. Both squads field excellent defenses and have plenty of talent at the skill positions. The question in Philly, however, is if Wentz can stay healthy. An MVP candidate when on the field, Wentz has missed eight regular season games and every postseason outing in the last two seasons. Though a strong unit in 2018, the Cowboys defensive front is not a deep one after Demarcus Lawrence and could be the weak link in 2019.
The Bears improved from a 5-11 squad in 2017 to a 12-win team in 2018. With a young quarterback at the helm and a loaded defense, Chicago is in good position for another division crown. However, how much will the team miss defensive coordinator Vic Fangio? The new Broncos head coach oversaw a unit that allowed the fewest points and third-fewest yards in the NFL. Chicago also plays in a strong division that features a Vikings squad poised to bounce back and an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team.
In 2017, the NFC South placed three teams in the playoffs. In 2018, only the Saints escaped the tough division. Atlanta and Carolina look ready to challenge for a postseason berth and a Bruce Arians-led Bucs squad could surprise. New Orleans is sure to be a Super Bowl favorite, but a tough division could see them underperform a hair and miss the tournament.
The NFC representatives in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams are still led by Sean McVay, a high-powered offense and a stout defensive front. The question with Los Angeles is an easy one, however, how will Todd Gurley fare in 2019? The NFL leader in touchdowns in each of the past two season, Gurley was a non-factor in the postseason and his health is a mystery. The Seahawks returned to the postseason following a one-year hiatus but can they do it again in 2019? The teams has to replace Russell Wilson‘s top target in Doug Baldwin, who retired in the offseason. How quickly DK Metcalf assimilates into that offense could determine Seattle’s postseason fate.
If you had to plant your flag on one of these teams missing the 2019 playoffs, which one would it be? Vote in the poll and give us your reasoning in the comments.
The Chargers shuffled around the bottom of their roster Friday. The team is bringing in offensive tackle Brant Weiss, and waiving offensive tackle Koda Martin with an injury designation to make room for him.
Weiss went undrafted out of Toledo back in 2018, and signed with the Cardinals. After spending training camp and the preseason in the desert, he was cut by Arizona. He latched on with the AAF, playing for the ill-fated Arizona Hotshots. After the AAF folded, Weiss was re-signed by the Cardinals, but didn’t last very long on their roster.
Martin is a rookie undrafted free agent out of Syracuse. He started his college career at Texas A&M before moving on to Syracuse, where his father-in-law Dino Barbers is the head coach. Martin earned a third-team All-ACC selection for his work last season protecting Eric Dungey.
While neither of these players were ever likely to make much of an impact, Weiss can’t be counted out yet. The Chargers have an uncertain situation at tackle, to say the least. Right tackle Sam Tevi graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 74th-best tackle last year, and we still don’t have an update on left tackle Russell Okung‘s mysterious injury. The Chargers might end up needing tackle depth, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Weiss stuck around.