Denver Broncos: Grading and analyzing the Melvin Gordon signing

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 22: Running back Melvin Gordon #25 of the Los Angeles Chargers looks on during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Dignity Health Sports Park on December 22, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 22: Running back Melvin Gordon #25 of the Los Angeles Chargers looks on during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Dignity Health Sports Park on December 22, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos made a statement on Friday, acquiring free-agent running back Melvin Gordon.

Melvin Gordon’s name had been mentioned with the Broncos before the free-agent signing period even began, but it didn’t seem likely that a deal between the two would happen. The Broncos made the signing official, bringing in a former first-round pick who is still just 26 years old (he will turn 27 next month).

It did seem likely that the Broncos could look for additional help at the running back position either in free agency or the draft. In fact, I had an article queued up about how the Broncos should sigh Todd Gurley until that became a moot point when he agreed to a deal with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday.

The Broncos zeroed in on Gordon and had a deal in place with the two sides agreeing to a two-year, $16 million deal with $13.5 million guaranteed. The Broncos clearly thought highly of him as Gurley received only $6 million on a one-year deal from Atlanta.

Gordon listened to offers from other teams but ultimately chose to stay in the AFC West division. In fact, there was a report that another team offered him more money but the idea of going against his former team, the Los Angeles Chargers, was appealing to him.

So now that we know that the Broncos have obtained one of the flashier names on the free-agent market, let’s look at what it means for the team and if he will be a good fit.


  • As stated earlier, Gordon is still young and still has plenty of tread on the tires, so to speak. He has run for over 4,000 yards in his career and that includes a down year in 2019.
  • He is an exceptional receiver out of the backfield and can be a huge weapon in the screen game. For his career, Gordon has caught 224 passes for 1,873 yards in his career.
  • He is a touchdown machine. In five seasons, he has found the end zone 47 times (36 rushing, 11 receiving). That is an even more impressive number when you consider that he didn’t score a single touchdown during his rookie season and he missed the first four games of last season. Gordon is a scoring machine and can be as good as any running back in the red zone.
  • In a backfield that includes Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos could have one of the best combinations at the running back position in all of the league. Lindsay will be a great change-of-pace back when Gordon is not in the game.
  • Perhaps the player that will appreciate Gordon’s presence the most is Drew Lock. It should be a focus of the organization to surround its young quarterback with as many weapons as possible. Being able to have a veteran such as Gordon lining up behind him (or next to him) in formation should bring some comfort to Lock.


  • Some fans are going to hate the contract the Broncos gave Gordon, and that is a bit understandable. Paying running backs big money in today’s NFL is not exactly a popular thing to and by agreeing to give him $13.5 million guaranteed, the Broncos did that.
  • Prior to last season, Gordon decided to hold out, hoping for a pay increase from the Chargers. He likely took some really, really bad advice from someone, but he didn’t get the money and the Chargers basically moved on, though he was still on the team.
  • With Gordon out, Austin Ekeler did more than just fill in for him and even made the case that he is the better overall back than Gordon. Broncos fans are not going to believe that right now, but last year, it wasn’t even close.
  • When Gordon did finally suit up last season, he ran for just 612 yards. But worse than that was his average yards per carry. In 2018, Gordon averaged 5.1 yards per carry. That number dipped all the way down to 3.8 yards per carry last season. Was 2019 just an off year for Gordon or has he regressed that badly?
  • He may have been listening to the guidance of his agent or someone else so it’s hard to blame Gordon alone, but he looked like an absolute selfish clown for holding out and the fact that the Chargers pretty much had no interest in bringing him back is telling.


Did the Broncos overpay for Gordon? It’s possible, but sometimes you have to pony up the cash to get what you want.

The Broncos are getting a player who gives the offense an instant boost and if he can return to his 2018 form, he gives the team one of the top running backs in the league. The fact that he is interested to play against his former team makes it even better.

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Chris Harris left the Broncos and joined the Chargers and the fact that he could play the Broncos twice per season had to be a motivating factor for Harris going there. With this essentially being a trade of Harris for Gordon, the rivalry between those two teams gets even better.

This was a strong, bold move by the Broncos, with a potentially great payoff. There’s way more to like than hate. Basically, much of what I have said here I planned to say in attempting to sway the team to sign Gurley, except I don’t have to try and explain away his potentially bad knees.

If this is going to be the year the Broncos start becoming stronger offensively, Gordon will be a key cog in the machine.

Football fans love to be hyped up by a new player coming to town, and Gordon coming to Denver is no exception. But this was a good football move for the team and one that will help in several different facets.

Broncos fans should be hyped about this move and excited to see Gordon in orange and blue.

Grade: B+