Chargers GM on Melvin Gordon: 'He's playing here'

Melvin Gordon began his holdout Wednesday in an effort to secure a long-term deal.

Los Angles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco isn't peeved that his top back isn't at training camp and harbors no acrimony towards Gordon.

"I love Melvin Gordon," Telesco said. "He's an excellent player. He's tough. He has a great work ethic and represents our organization extremely well. But he's not here.

"I understand his thoughts and opinions of what he's going through. I always look at the player's side, so I can see it. It doesn't mean I agree with it, but I can kind of see what his thought process is."

The final sentence underscores the crux of the discrepancy between Gordon and the Chargers.

As a workhorse running back who since being drafted 15th overall in 2015 has amassed the second-most offensive touches in the NFL (1,079), third-most scrimmage yards (5,205), and third most scrimmage TDs (38), Gordon believes he's earned a long-term deal with a load of guarantees.

The Chargers, while acknowledging Gordon is an asset, don't want to pay the running back position that sort of value. L.A. is comfortable relying on cheaper options like Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson.

"I'm not naive: I know we're better with Melvin Gordon," Telesco said, via ESPN's Eric D. Williams. "But we've got a strong group of guys that are here, and it's their time to work and get ready to go."

The standoff is about positional value.

Proving running backs matter and should get paid is tough sledding in the current climate. It's what Le'Veon Bell fought for. It's what people will point to after Todd Gurley got his contract and is now dealing with a knee issue. It's what Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott, and every other running back who wants to be paid will battle.

Sadly for Gordon, he has little leverage on his side. Set to make $5.6 million this season, the running back must report at some point this season or that year will simply toll to the next. Then the Chargers could slap the franchise tag on him next year and possibly even the following. The team owns three years of leverage. Oh, and they can fine him $40,000 for each day of training camp missed.

"My only thought process is he's playing here," Telesco said. "He's an L.A. Charger."

Gordon is a Charger, but he's not with the Chargers currently.

Given Telesco's comments don't expect the team to come off their position anytime soon.