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Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon have a very similar situation going on right now. The two players are producing for their teams and severely underpaid. This is the fate of almost every running back in the league but these guys find themselves in a funny predicament.
The Los Angeles Chargers have already set a line in the sand by stating they won’t go over $10 million a year. Elliott has said he will not play for the Dallas Cowboys without a new deal. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has hinted that he’s ready to give quarterback Dak Prescott an extension before Elliott.
Elliott is coming off a season where he led the league in rushing yards (1,434) and finished second in total yards from scrimmage (2,001). It marked the second time in his three-year career that Elliott has led the NFL in rushing yards.
Gordon is coming off his second career Pro Bowl season where he averaged 5.1 yards per carry and 9.8 yards per reception. He finished in the top five in touchdowns with 14 while only playing 12 games, establishing himself as one of the leagues best dual threat backs.
Those numbers sound impressive on both fronts but will another team think so? There aren’t many teams going into week one of the pre-season saying to themselves “Boy we need a top flight runner “. All coaches think their plan is going to work at the outset and it would take at least a game or two to realize they do need help.
Let’s assume the Cowboys and Chargers really want to play hardball and subsequently trade both players. Where would the destination even be? It shouldn’t be that tough to find a landing spot for two of the most productive players in the league, right?
The big problem right now is obviously cap space. There aren’t a plethora of teams with $10-20 million of space to spare. I doubt they would be willing to part ways with it to sign one player, especially a running back. Furthermore would a team want to give up a package of future draft picks for the same player?
How many teams are out there that even need a running back?
The Houston Texans come to mind, but that’s a stretch. They’ve already came out and said they won’t trade for Gordon after releasing D’Onta Foreman last week. As far as Elliott is concerned, do you really think Jerry Jones would trade him to another team in Texas?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions or any team looking for a top flight running back would be interested. The level of interest won’t outweigh the rest of the obstacles in front of them.
The situation doesn’t bode well to hold out unless you are willing to go all the way, like Le’Veon Bell did last season. These two players are still under their rookie deals and the teams still owns their rights next season if they do hold out.
Both players want to get paid but their best bet might be to negotiate with their respective teams. Maybe they holdout long enough for an injury or a veteran getting cut elsewhere. Right about now there’s nowhere else for them to go.