Did the Buffalo Bills make an offer to Los Angeles Chargers free-agent running back Melvin Gordon before he signed with the Denver Broncos? It’s complicated, as this 2020 NFL Free Agency period has continued to be from the start.
Thursday evening, it was reported by NYUP.com that the Bills and Gordon had mutual interest in a deal and Buffalo was one of four teams in the running. Later that evening, John Wawrow of the Associated Press said the Bills were “not at all in the running” for Gordon before later tweeting that Gordon would end up in Denver or with the Kansas City Chiefs.
On Friday around noon, it was reported that Gordon was finalizing a deal with the Broncos. That deal was announced by multiple reporters and we thought that was the end of it.
Late Friday night, Mike Klis of the Denver NBC affiliate tweeted that the “Bills offered a little more to Melvin Gordon than Broncos per Broncos player source.” Klis said Gordon “wanted to play for the Broncos organization.”
In a moment you don’t often see in the NFL media, particularly between local and national reporters, ESPN’s Adam Schefter came and completely refuted the report, calling out Klis by name:
“Just to be clear, Mike, Bills didn’t make any offers to Gordon,” said Schefter.
“I was told different,” replied Klis.
“Agent reached out to Bills; Bills never made offer,” finished Schefter.
“Adam, immediately after [Ian Rapoport and Jason La Canfora] broke news of Gordon/Broncos agreement, I talked to a lot of people directly involved and again, was told different,” added Klis.
Now, earlier in the day Rapoport did report that another team made a better offer than the Broncos, but Gordon preferred to stay in the same division.
So how do we wrap our heads around all of this? Did the Bills make an offer? Were they interested? Maybe.
All of these reports are sourced by the reporters, and they can only depend on the information their sources provide. Every one of the sources has an agenda and uses the media for different purposes. Let’s lay out a scenario.
In an effort to drum up interest from a team with salary-cap money and a need at running back, the Gordon camp contacts the Bills to say he has interest in coming to Buffalo. Gordon’s agents leak the phone call to local media. Gordon signs with Denver and to make his client look sought-after, Gordon’s agent leaks that the Bills also had an offer on the table. To make Denver fans (who have been openly rooting against Gordon for years as a member of the Chargers) and maybe even the front office feel better, they say Gordon turned down a bigger contract so he could play in Denver.
Did Buffalo have any interest in the scenario here? Maybe, maybe not, but this could explain how all the reporting was accurate from the perspective of the source and reporter. It’s why you’re supposed to have two independent sources on every story, so you have a better chance of avoiding a source with an agenda. In the age of breaking news on Twitter, that isn’t always the case and in the NFL, with much lower stakes than capital-J JOURNALISM, it’s not usually as obvious.
I’m assuming a few things here with how this escalated, too. Schefter used to report in Denver and may or may not have a thing with Denver-based Klis, leading to the public calling out. Wawrow dislikes poorly-sourced reporting as a member of the AP (but did publicly say he respects the job Matt Parrino does at NYUP). None of them were shy about sharing it on Twitter as a result.
In the end, Gordon doesn’t end up in Buffalo and that’s really all that matters to us.