“This is not a Le’Veon Bell situation,” the source said. “He still wants to be a Charger. But he’s got to protect himself.”
The belief is the Chargers have shown little-to-no flexibility in moving off a high asking price to facilitate a trade, the source said.
After Gordon did not report to training camp in hopes of a new contract, the Chargers never came close to his asking price and shut down any hopes for an extension once the regular season began.
Gordon’s agent, Damarius Bilbo, told ESPN’s Josina Anderson in early August that he requested the Chargers trade his client after the team remained at its initial offer of approximately $10 million per season. Gordon’s fifth-year option was set to pay $5.605 million in 2019.
ESPN also reported in August that Gordon was considering sitting out until midseason, returning in time to accrue an NFL season toward free agency. That appears to be the play here. The top of the running back market begins at around $13 million per year, and discussions about bridging the gap with incentives didn’t work.
Gordon has subjected himself to fines during his absence.
Gordon has made two Pro Bowls since the Chargers drafted him 15th overall in 2015. His 28 rushing touchdowns over the past three years tied for the league lead with Dallas Cowboys back Ezekiel Elliott, who held out in the preseason before signing a six-year, $90 million extension.
In 12 games last year, Gordon recorded 885 rushing yards on 175 carries (5.1 yards per carry) along with 14 total touchdowns (10 rushing) and 50 receptions for 490 yards.