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LaDainian Tomlinson: Melvin Gordon ‘ends up in Miami’

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 season did not go as Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon envisioned. After a holdout to start the season, Gordon returned to find the Chargers were moving to Austin Ekeler as their primary rusher. Gordon finished the season with a career-low rushing total, just 612 yards, and now heads into free agency hoping to land with another team willing to pay big for a two-time Pro Bowl running back who will turn 27 this spring.

The Miami Dolphins need to find a running back to lead a group of younger players, and they have the most salary cap space in the league. For a runner who is looking for a big pay day and to be the unquestioned starter, the Dolphins could be the ideal landing spot.

Hall of Fame running back and former member of the (then) San Diego Chargers LaDainian Tomlinson weighed in on Gordon’s free agency and the Dolphins as the likely destination.

“I think this young man ends up in Miami,” Tomlinson said on NFL Network via NESN.com. “You think about what Miami is preparing for. They got an older quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick — ‘Fitzmagic,’ I should say — and there’s talk about them drafting a young Tua [Tagovailoa]. With that being said, you need a running back like Melvin Gordon who can churn out yards for a team that hasn’t been able to run the football at all. When was the last time we’ve seen a dominant Miami team run the football? Ricky Williams, right? Melvin fits kind of in that same mold. Power runner, a guy with speed, can do a little bit of everything. So I think Miami is the team.”

Gordon has rushed for 4,240 yards on 1,059 carries, giving him a career 4.0 yards per attempt average. He has 36 touchdowns in his career. He has only broken 1,000 yards once, reaching 1,105 in 2017, but he came up just three yards shy of the 1,000 mark in 2016 and had 885 yards on a 5.1 yards per attempt average in 12 games played in 2018.

Miami, as a team, rushed for 1,156 yards in 2019, but that was spread over 13 players. The team’s leader in rushing yards was quarterback Fitzpatrick, who picked up 243 yards. The second highest total belonged to Mark Walton, who the Dolphins released after just seven games played, followed by Kenyan Drake, who Miami traded to the Arizona Cardinals after six games played. Patrick Laird had the highest 2019 rushing total for a running back still on the Dolphins roster, tallying 168 yards. Kalen Ballage had the most carries for any player on Miami’s roster in 2019, rushing 74 times.

Miami has to find a true starting running back.

Now heading into a sixth season though, Gordon likely will want to be paid like a top rusher in the league, despite the down season he had in 2019. Could the Dolphins enter the Gordon sweepstakes? Would they overpay to ensure they land him?