Report: Chargers give RB Austin Ekeler permission to seek trade
A Chargers fixture has been given permission to find a football future elsewhere.
After it was reported Monday that running back Austin Ekeler had requested to speak to other teams regarding a possible trade, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that LA had granted Ekeler’s request.
Ekeler is seeking a new contract, likely one worth upwards of $10 million per season, coming off a 2022 season in which he led the league in total touchdowns and was the lone consistent skill player outside of Justin Herbert. The Chargers, meanwhile, are unlikely to commit long-term to Ekeler at such a price for a number of reasons. The running back turns 28 in May, usually the age at which players at his position begin to decline. He’s a running back, a position that’s proven to be replaceable with cheap assets. And, perhaps most importantly, LA needs to conserve every dollar to manage their salary cap with Herbert’s impending extension likely to cost somewhere between $40 and $50 million a season.
The Chargers have already committed to players like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joey Bosa, and Khalil Mack by restructuring their contracts and pushing cap dollars into 2024. While Ekeler is a key part of the franchise and the face of the team off the field, his positional value may be such that LA isn’t comfortable extending that same olive branch. That could be why contract negotiations have stalled, leading to the standoff we’ve seen play out this week.
Ultimately, a request to explore a trade is a leverage play by Ekeler and his camp. They have a compelling argument to receive the kind of money they’re likely asking for. If another team is willing to pay that price, it’s better to know now and secure that future instead of risking a potential injury or downturn in play during the upcoming season. However, if no other team wants to pay Ekeler what he believes he’s worth, I still wouldn’t rule out a return to LA for 2023 to play out the remainder of his contract.
Beyond 2023, however, it certainly seems as though Ekeler will be playing for a new franchise.