We know that Austin Ekeler will be the Chargers’ starting running back in 2020. We don’t know who the team’s starting quarterback will be.
Appearing recently on CBS Sports Radio with Zach Gelb, Ekeler addressed three different options for replacing Philip Rivers (Tom Brady, Tyrod Taylor, Cam Newton). And Ekeler made it clear that he has one requirement for whoever the quarterback will be.
“The most important thing is that you’re levelheaded and willing not to treat us like lesser human beings who don’t get paid as much as you,” Ekeler said.
Obviously, this observation from Ekeler means that there are quarterbacks like that out there. But Ekeler doesn’t seem to be concerned that Brady, Taylor, or Newton would fall into that category.
As to Brady (who is off the market), Ekeler said, “[It would be awesome to say, ‘Yes I was with two of the best of all time to ever do it.’ That would have been a cool experience.”
As to Newton (who is still available), Ekeler observed, “He’s got a little more personality, which I’m always down for. I think it’s hilarious. I think Cam’s funny, just what I’ve see on social media. I saw Christian [McCaffrey] talking about him and giving him props and how much he respected him, so I feel like he’d be a great fit, too.”
As to Taylor (who currently is the top option on the roster), Ekeler was particularly effusive.
“He’s just one of the smarter players in the league,” Ekeler said. “This man, like, was literally the first one in the locker room every day. Like every morning, you see Tyrod’s there before everyone else. Maybe he’s just a freak morning person, but he’s super-dedicated to the game. Even taking a backup role last year behind Philip, [Taylor] was still in the game, and that’s what I think is gonna give us a chance. Because he is dedicated, he’s super-athletic, he makes smart decisions, and he started for a few teams so he has that experience, and so that leadership comes with that too. And we have a lot of playmakers around him to make his job a little bit easier, so I think we can get it done.”
Taylor has indeed been a starter elsewhere, but he never performed well enough to keep the job. If Newton is healthy, he’s clearly the better option from a football standpoint, with Taylor having value as the backup.
And Newton will do the one thing that football teams should be trying to do, even if they know it’s not wise to admit it: Make money. Newton is a superstar. He’ll help fill the new stadium, sell jerseys, and create real interest. Also, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when healthy. The current challenge, of course, is the inability to check his health with a proper physical, thanks to the COVID-19 procedures.
If/when Newton is determined to be healthy, the Chargers should pounce. But it could be a while before that can happen. With no offseason workouts likely in 2020, the only risk that comes from waiting is that someone else will decide to swoop in before the Chargers can.
Austin Ekeler has one requirement for the Chargers’ 2020 quarterback originally appeared on Pro Football Talk