Why the Packers should show interest in Melvin Gordon

Green Bay Packers

The Los Angeles Chargers have reportedly allowed Melvin Gordon to seek a trade elsewhere, and the Green Bay Packers are one of the few contending teams who could make sense as a landing spot for the touted running back.

Melvin Gordon has made it clear that he wants to be one of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL, even reportedly seeking more than $10 million per year. While the Los Angeles Chargers star is a valuable player and one of the best at his position, teams rarely want to compensate running backs this highly. And since an interested team would have to give draft capital to the Chargers in order to acquire Gordon’s services, that only makes him pricier.

So there won’t be too many teams clamoring for Gordon’s services, in spite of the fact that he averaged 5.1 yards per carry with a whopping 10 rushing touchdowns on just 175 carries last season. Gordon’s efficiency and nose for the end zone are praiseworthy, but interested parties will have to be careful not to overpay for a running back who missed four games in 2018.

But one of the teams that should be interested is the Green Bay Packers. The Wisconsin connection doesn’t hurt, but what makes Gordon so intriguing for the Packers is the potential fit and Green Bay’s mentality heading into the 2019 regular season.

After signing the likes of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos to a defense brimming with young talent, the Packers signaled their intent to get back to being Super Bowl contenders. But while they made hefty upgrades to a defense that has usually been the franchise’s Achilles heel, their lack of upgrades on offense stand out.

Perhaps the Packers are banking on Matt LaFleur immediately forging a better relationship with Aaron Rodgers, as the broken partnership between former head coach Mike McCarthy and his future Hall-of-Famer passer eventually became the storyline in “Titletown.” LaFleur, however, doesn’t have an established track record, nor can he fix the fact that Green Bay’s only two legit offensive weapons in 2018 were superstar Davante Adams and underutilized running back Aaron Jones.

The Packers’ offense can be effective in 2019 without acquiring Gordon, because Jones, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and even Geronimo Allison and Equanimeous St. Brown seem poised to take steps forward.

But given how much the Packers have put into this offseason, it couldn’t hurt to call the Chargers up and at least ask what they want in exchange for Gordon. If Gordon is serious about holding out the regular season a la Le’Veon Bell, chances are that the Chargers won’t be looking for much.

Though the Packers spent a significant chunk of change this spring to make much-needed upgrades on defense, they still have a solid amount of cap space left. They can afford Gordon, and they could angle for a discount from what the Chargers offered. Gordon would be back in Wisconsin, he’d be playing with Rodgers and he’d get a chance to break free from a team he may have soured on.

The financial considerations should give the Packers pause, and it’s why this wouldn’t be a slam-dunk trade for Green Bay. However, it is an option to strongly consider. Catching up to the Chicago Bears and their mighty defense will take adding more wrinkles to the Packers’ offense, and it would also be unwise to overlook the chances of the Minnesota Vikings stealing the division due to the talent that exists on Mike Zimmer’s deep squad.

So the Packers need to get bold. Running backs will recoup their value in the coming years as teams take a closer look at players like James White and Duke Johnson. A lot of backs in this league have the talent to be used as wide receivers or traditional running backs, and teams need to do a better job of weaponizing all of the athletic traits that players at this position offer.

The Packers have one potentially great back in Aaron Jones, but they have nothing else behind him on the depth chart. Jamaal Williams hardly inspires confidence. Meanwhile, Gordon is coming off of a season in which he converted 66 targets into 50 receptions, 490 yards and four touchdowns, showing even more growth from a solid 2017 as a pass-catcher.

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Gordon’s versatility and star power could make him an intriguing weapon for Rodgers in LaFleur’s offense, which will need more wrinkles in order to give the Bears and Vikings trouble in 2019. Of course, the Packers’ main focus will be on Chicago, whose own versatility on offense will be tricky for even the new-look Packers defense to counter.

Although Gordon won’t come cheap, this is a deal worth pursuing. The Packers’ window with Rodgers isn’t infinite, and this is the time to start aggressively making a push. If the Chargers can be forced into accepting minimal draft capital and if Gordon is willing to buy into the Packers for a relatively affordable fee (but still a significant raise from his current deal), then don’t be surprised if Green Bay ends up being the most logical contender for Gordon to bounce to. Surely Gordon still wants to win, and there’d be something extra sweet about him winning his first Super Bowl ring in the state he became a star.

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