Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon didn't make the trip to New England after being diagnosed with strep throat -- the end of a tumultuous week in which Gordon was cited late Tuesday for driving under the influence, making him subject to a potential three-game NFL suspension and jeopardizing the remaining guarantees in his contract.
The team doesn't plan to fine or suspend Gordon, sources say. He handled himself well after the incident, apologizing to everyone from teammates to president of football operations/general manager John Elway to team president/CEO Joe Ellis. And he was on track to play Sunday against the Patriots before showing up ill Friday.
But Gordon, 27, is in line for potential discipline from the NFL. The collective bargaining agreement ratified in March increased the mandatory suspension for DUI from two to three games, which would cost Gordon nearly $800,000 in game checks if served next season at his current salary. A suspension also could allow the Broncos to void a $4.5 million full guarantee on Gordon's 2021 base salary, though it's not clear whether they would do so.
Gordon's arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 13.
Doctors gave Gordon medication after the strep test came back positive. Had this been a home game, Gordon still might've played Sunday. But with a long flight east, the Broncos decided to err on the side of caution and left him behind. Phillip Lindsay, who hasn't played since Week 1 because of turf toe, practiced fully all week and is expected to start instead.
Broncos running backs coach Curtis Modkins also didn't make the trip after testing positive for COVID-19. Modkins had been transparent with the team since a close contact with a positive individual, a source said, and even though he previously had tested negative, he would have been isolated away from the team if this twice-delayed game were played as scheduled last weekend.
All COVID-19 tests for Gordon and all other players have come back negative. The Broncos haven't had a player go on the reserve/COVID-19 list since tight end Andrew Beck during intake screening in late July.
Gordon agreed to terms on a two-year, $16 million contract with the Broncos in April after playing for the Chargers for five seasons, including a holdout-shortened 2019 campaign. He has a $2 million roster bonus due on the fifth day after players report to training camp next summer in addition to $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses and the $4.5 million fully guaranteed base salary.
In four games this season, Gordon has 65 carries for 281 yards, 11 catches for 45 yards and four total touchdowns.