The Chicago Bears have a nice collection of running backs, but I suppose it could be even better.
In the wake of the news that two-time Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon will request a trade from the Los Angeles Chargers if the two sides can’t come to an agreement on a multi-year extension, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski offers up the best possible landing spots (and potential trade packages) for the Chargers’ top rusher.
It’s worth noting the Bears are among the teams Sobleski lists that could (1) make sense for Gordon and (2) put together a competitive trade package. To be clear, Sobleski isn’t saying the Bears are “in” on any Gordon deal right now (i.e. this isn’t a rumor). So let’s squash that before we get too far. Instead, he’s simply surveying the landscape of possible teams that could enter the fray because of an apparent fit.
But still: Chicago was listed, so let’s at least explore the possibility.
Gordon is a stud running back. In addition to a pair of Pro Bowl appearances, Gordon has averaged more than 1,400 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns per season over the last three years. He is an excellent rusher inside and out, can catch passes out of the backfield, and turn them into huge, game-breaking plays. The combination of power, speed, and soft hands is what has made Gordon one of the league’s top backs. Through that lens, you can see 1) why Gordon wants the security of a long-term extension and 2) why Sobleski views the Bears as a fit. Do-it-all backs who have established themselves in the NFL don’t grow on trees, and solidifying the backfield could do wonders for Matt Nagy’s offense. But what about the cost?
The Bears should have an idea of what it should cost to acquire an impact talent via trade before the start of the season. After all, GM Ryan Pace swung the Khalil Mack trade last summer. And because running backs don’t command nearly as much as pass-rushers on the market, the price tag to meet in a trade for Gordon shouldn’t be too exorbitant. With that being said, Sobleski considers a second-round pick fair compensation to acquire Gordon. And while it feels light, the Bears could (in theory) offer up the Raiders’ second-rounder, which could be closer to the top half of the round than the bottom half if Oakland doesn’t rebound in 2019.
Before you pre-order a Bears Gordon jersey, here’s one thing you need to know: The Bears-Gordon fit is far from a perfect one. For starters, the team invested a pair of draft picks in bolstering the position. Third-rounder David Montgomery figures to be the long-term featured player at the position, while seventh-round choice Kerrith Whyte Jr. could fit as a return specialist and general speed merchant. Neither has established themselves in the pros, but having running backs on rookie scale deals allows teams to spend heavier elsewhere on the field. Which brings us to the second hang-up in a potential deal for Gordon.
Gordon has made it known he wants a new deal, whether it’s from the Chargers or whichever team trades for him, if it comes to that. The Bears don’t seem positioned to pay a premier price for a running back right now, and not entirely because there isn’t salary cap space available.
In fact, the Bears have an estimated $16,777,142 in available cap space at the moment, which ranks 16th in the league. In other words, there does figured to be room to fit in another sizable contract. But would a big deal for a running back really make sense in the grand scheme of things? Gordon is younger than Le’Veon Bell, who just signed a deal that will pay him more than $13 million per year. It’s conceivable that Gordon could ask for more than what Bell received and get something near what Todd Gurley was given by the Rams last summer.
Between what could be a lofty price tag and potential extensions coming down the pipeline for guard Cody Whitehair and safety Eddie Jackson, a Bears deal for Gordon doesn’t make as much sense in the grand scheme of things as it did when focusing the discussion to a football fit.
Gordon is an excellent football player and an ideal fit for the Bears’ competitive window. Trading for him would make a good team that much better. But it doesn’t seem realistic within the constraints of a salary capped NFL. And yet, because the Bears’ GM has been full of surprises over the years, I suppose we can’t rule it out altogether. So let’s keep an eye on what happens here (and not just because the Bears and Chargers are scheduled to square off later in the year).