The Los Angeles Chargers are reportedly in danger of losing one of their best offensive weapons after running back Austin Ekeler approached the team with a trade request.
Ekeler wants out after the talks about his extension didn’t progress past the preliminary phase. The 27-year-old is set to enter the final year of the four-year, $24.5 million deal that is set to pay him a base salary of $6.25 million in 2023.
It is unclear whether Ekeler is really interested in leaving the franchise that signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2017 or is just seeking additional leverage in contract talks. He has been one of the most productive backs in the league in the past several seasons and rightfully feels that his contract doesn’t reflect that.
After missing time with an injury in 2020, Ekeler played all 33 games in the following two seasons. He rushed for 1,826 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2021 and 2022 while also adding 177 catches for 1,369 receiving yards and 13 TDs. He became just the fourth player in NFL history to have back-to-back seasons with at least 15 touchdowns from scrimmage while setting the Chargers’ franchise record for most catches by a running back in 2022 with 107 receptions.
While the Chargers could get handsome compensation for Ekeler if they trade him, it would also leave them with a huge hole in their offense that would be hard to fill. It now all comes down to whether the franchise believes keeping Ekeler around for a hefty fee gets them closer to their goal of competing for a Super Bowl.