Since Melvin Gordon and his agent requested a trade from the Chargers, speculation started on who a potential suitor would be. One team that topped the list was the running back-needy Houston Texans. Well, that speculation can officially come to an end as the Texans have made a trade for former Browns' running back, Duke Johnson.
This has a couple big implications for the Melvin Gordon situation. It takes a team away from the trade talks, and that hurts the value the Chargers would get out of Gordon (if they do decide to trade him). More teams at the table means better value for the Chargers. It also gives a glimpse into what a disgruntled running back would yield in a trade.
Johnson and Gordon are very different backs. Gordon does most of his damage on the ground while Johnson is more of a receiving threat, but they both play the same position and the Johnson trade is the best comparable we have right now.
In terms of profile, there's no question that Gordon's star is brighter than Johnson's, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will yield a bigger return. The advantage to trading for a guy like Duke Johnson vs Melvin Gordon is the price tag. Johnson is signed through 2021 and will count no more than $5 million and some change against the cap in any one season of that deal. Gordon has made it clear that he wants more than double that number. So a team like the Texans would need to ask themselves, "will Melvin Gordon be twice as valuable to our team than Duke Johnson?" There's no doubt in my mind that he isn't, and that's exactly the debate going on right now regarding star backs and their contract demands.
So, while one would think that a player like Gordon would get the Chargers more than the fourth-round pick the Browns got for Johnson, Gordon's contract demands will diminish his value. No matter how you look at it, the Duke Johnson trade is an ominous sign for those hoping for a big haul in a Melvin Gordon deal.