After a disappointing 1-2 start, the Los Angeles Chargers were contacted by running back Melvin Gordon, who announced his plan to report to practice on Thursday. In the NFC, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is sidelined for 6-8 weeks after injuring his thumb against the Los Angeles Rams and requiring surgery.
Gordon returning to practice ends his 64-day holdout: one that was filled with trade rumors and questions surrounding the running backs decision. Although he is returning to the team, Gordon has expressed that 2019 will be his last with the Chargers.
If the Chargers play their cards correctly, they can flip Gordon before the trade deadline for high valued draft picks. A contending team desperate to reach that next level could put together a viable trade package-think Texans or Colts.
Austin Ekeler has produced nicely in place of Gordon, rushing for 160 yards and four touchdowns in the first three games. Even with that production, the Chargers are ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing yards, averaging 112 yards per game.
Gordon has expressed his desire to be paid similar to top-tier running backs Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. Gordon is set to make roughly $5 million this season, with the Chargers offering a contract extension that would average $10 million per year, nearly doubling his salary. The offer doesn’t peak the interest of Gordon, who stated this is likely his last season with the Chargers.
In New Orleans, Brees is hopeful he can beat the rehab time for his thumb injury. The initial diagnosis is that Brees will miss 6-8 weeks, but with the Saints offense struggling, Brees is working to overcome that timeframe.
The Saints beat the Seattle Seahawks this past Sunday, but now face the Dallas Cowboys this upcoming Sunday. After the Cowboys, the Saints play two tough defenses in three weeks when they travel to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars and travel to Chicago to play the Bears. Both of those defenses will test the readiness of back-up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Saints are a top-tier team, one that has routinely contended for Super Bowl aspirations. With Alvin Kamara in the backfield and Michael Thomas out wide, the Saints have playmakers all over the field. If Brees can beat the timeframe and salvage the season, the Saints are a lock for the NFC South and a threat to the top-ranked Rams in the NFC.