New Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon famously held out last year, sitting out the first three games of the 2019 season in hopes of getting a new contract from the Los Angeles Chargers. The payday never came in L.A.
Now with another AFC West squad, the running back said if he could go back in time, he'd handle the situation differently.
"I probably would come back," Gordon said Friday on a conference call. "Just because my legacy of what I'm trying to do as a player and the mark that I'm trying to leave. Obviously, those are games I can't get back. I started out slow and being able to catch my stride toward the end of the season, but then it's too late. I would say more so for my legacy and what I can do for a career as a player more so than anything else."
Aside from the slow start to the season, Gordon said he felt a different vibe once he did return to the Chargers last season.
"I mean it was tough but, I definitely felt like I ruined some relationships," he said. "It's all part of it. Obviously, you try your best to kind of put that aside and go out there and still give it your all. That's what I tried to do. At times it definitely was difficult. You kind of felt some tension. Well, I kind of felt some tension walking around, but I just tried my best to keep a smile on my face and just show up for work every day. Like I said it was difficult and challenging, but I got through. Obviously, I can't take back what I did. What I did was done. And now I'm here."
Not signing the deal on the table with L.A. last season, which NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported was around $10 million per year, Gordon also cost himself some money, at least in the short term. The Broncos signed Gordon to a two-year, $16 million contract with $13.5 million guaranteed.
After averaging just 3.8 yards per carry for 612 yards, and 42 catches for 296 yards last season, Gordon has a chip on his shoulder heading to Denver. The RB is set out to prove he can still be a difference-maker.
"Oh, it's huge. I just feel like a lot of people just doubt my talent as a back," Gordon said of the chip on his shoulder. "Just during the holdout, a lot of people were saying, 'Oh, he's an average back, he's not this, he's not that.' Just this year, people are like, 'Well, he's not the back that he was.' No one takes into account that I didn't have my center, or I didn't have my left tackle and that we had guys that were hurt and just in and out. And I didn't have really my starting linemen. My best linemen, I didn't have. No one cares about that, and nor should they.
"But some players they give that excuse for. Some players they give them an excuse, 'Well, they didn't have their line, but he's still a great player.' Then you have some players that are in my position where they don't care if you have a good line, or if your line is hurt or not. You're not what you are. You're an average player.
"To me, I'm going to take that and I'm going to use it as fuel, because I know what type of player I am, and I want to show that. I want to show that, and I am going to show that. I'm going to show everybody that I'm better than just average."
Gordon joins a backfield that already boasts Phillip Lindsay, who earned back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to open his career (something Gordon has done just once in five seasons). Gordon believes that the Broncos can have the best one-two backfield punch in the NFL in 2020.
"With Lindsay, he's a great back. I've watched him up close, in person," Gordon said. "These past few days, I've been watching film on him as well just seeing how they open things up for him. ... I think we could be a great one-two punch. Me and Austin (Ekeler) kind of was that one-two punch, and I feel like we were one of the better tandems in the league. I just hope to continue that with Lindsay. I know people are wondering what is his position with getting carries and things like that? Right now, it's about winning football games and we'll worry about that later. We're just trying to both put the team in the best position to win football games and score points."
NFL Network's James Palmer reported that the Broncos signed Gordon to be the lead back, believing the dual-threat player works better in new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur's scheme. Still, anyone betting against Lindsay playing a big role does so at his or her own peril.