One of the few highlights in the Denver Broncos’ bummer 2021 season was the emergence of the dominant running back duo of Javonte Wiliams and Melvin Gordon.
Williams, a rookie second-round running back who proved to be one of the draft’s biggest steals, and Gordon, a veteran in the final year of his contract with the team, complemented each other’s strengths.
Gordon joined the Broncos in 2020 after five years with the Los Angeles Chargers. He signed a two-year deal worth $16 million, of which $13.5M was guaranteed. At the time, Broncos Country had mixed feelings about the addition, especially at that price.
However, fans have since come around on the signing. While both George Paton and Gordon have publicly spoken out with mutual interest for a return, recent reports suggest the return is unlikely, although still possible.
The question remains, is re-signing Gordon worth it?
- Statistics: The 2021 season was a fantastic statistical season for Gordon. He finished with 10 combined total touchdowns, 918 rushing yards, and averaged 4.5 YPC. Statistically, he finished among the top 15 running backs last season. With Russell Wilson now leading the team, there’s no doubt Gordon would be an incredible asset to this new high-powered offense.
- New Coaching: It’s no secret that the Broncos’ former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur held the team back. New head coach Nathaniel Hackett is an offensive powerhouse with a proven track record. He is likely to run an outside zone scheme, which favors Gordon more than Williams. Given all that Gordon was able to accomplish with a system not built for success, bringing him back for another season under a new regime could prove to be prosperous.
- Power Couple: Despite Denver’s mediocre 2021 offense, Gordon and Williams nearly both finished with 1,000 yards. Having two running backs on a roster of that caliber is incredibly rare and gives a team an unmatched advantage. Letting Gordon walk would leave really difficult shoes to fill.
Melvin Gordon with a 70-yard touchdown.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 12, 2021
- Cost: Running back Chase Edmonds just signed a two-year, $12.6 million contract, a sure-fire sign that Gordon has plenty of value in the market. Denver has other positions in more dire need of financial attention. Potentially overpaying for a position that’s historically proven to be best filled through the draft would be a major mistake.
- Fumbles: There’s no denying that Gordon is a beast on the field. Unfortunately, his entire career has been plagued with issues of holding onto the ball. In two seasons with the Broncos, he fumbled and lost the ball a total of seven times. One of these devastating turnovers was against the Kansas City Chiefs last season that stopped a potential game-winning drive that would have ended their six-year losing streak to their AFC West rival.
- Age: Gordon will turn 29 in April. Historically, the running back position sees a sharp decline in production after age 26 and continues to fall harder and harder with each additional year. While Gordon has kept up among the league, there’s no denying he’s not statistically the same player he was in his younger days, especially when it comes to receiving.
While there are many reasons to bring Gordon back, unfortunately, the sticking point may end up being his contract price, which will likely be too high for Denver.