One of the top storylines to emerge last week was running back Austin Ekeler‘s request to seek a trade sending him away from the Chargers. Los Angeles has given him permission to do so, making this situation one to watch. The veteran recently spoke on his trade request and his openness to remain in Los Angeles during an appearance on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast.
“I think it’s really important to put it out there that it’s not like, ‘Oh, I hate the Chargers and I need to get out of this organization, and I need to leave,” Ekeler said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. I would like to stay if it was under the right circumstances.” (h/t Kevin Patra of NFL.com).
The 27-year-old has one year remining on his current contract, a four-year, $24.5MM deal which has given the Chargers tremendous value given Ekeler’s production. He has topped 1,500 scrimmage yards three times in his career, and led the NFL in total touchdowns in each of the past two campaigns. That production would likely put him in line for a sizeable raise on the $6.25MM he is due in 2023 (or, more generally, the $6.125MM AAV of his existing pact) if he were a free agent now.
The former UDFA ranks 14th in the league in terms of average compensation at the running back position, one which has traditionally been undervalued relative to most others. This year’s free agent period has continued that trend, which will make it interesting to see how much interest other teams will have in acquiring Ekeler at a high trade and/or financial cost. Pushing closer to the top of the pecking order on his next deal is clearly his priority, though.
“I’m so underpaid right now as far as my contract and what I contribute to the team,” Ekeler said. “I am relentlessly pursuing this. I want to get something long-term done. I want a team that wants me long term… I’m getting half my value of what I could be getting.”
Given his age, a lucrative investment on the part of the Chargers or any other team could carry significant risk. As the Western Colorado product noted, however, his skillset differs from that of traditional, between-the-tackles workhorse backs. Ekeler has received more than 200 carries only twice in his career, and 48% of his total yardage has come in the passing game. That could help the 5-foot-8 back extend his production deeper into his career than many others at the position.
Ekeler reiterated his affinity for the Chargers, adding, “I want to be there, but on the right terms.” Los Angeles’ offense would look dramatically different if a trade were to take place, given the team’s struggles to find a consistent backup RB in recent years. A new round of extension talks could help continue the relationship between team and player, but the potential market from outside suitors could drive him to a new NFL home in the near future.
40 comments on “Austin Ekeler Addresses Trade Request, Contract Status”
Shame he didn’t come out and say I was overpaid the first 2 years of my contract.
He would snag more on the market but it’s always comical that they complain after a good year.
He wasn’t overpaid the first two years of his contract. He was banged up the first year, then had two stellar years.
How about he plays out under the contract he signed? He has one more year on it and then can test the market in free agency.
The same reason most high performing veterans and head coaches don’t play out lame duck years.
I never understand billionaire bootlickers “why won’t he just honor the contract he signed” obviously the same reason teams don’t. Value fluctuates, either a player is worth more than their contract and they ask for more money or they’re not worth their contract and the team cuts them. Support the guy who’s shortening his life for your enjoyment not the billionaire owner who makes heaps of money regardless if they pay the player more.
I’m not for or against anyone. I said it was comical. This may not have been the best example. As far as teams not honoring that’s the NFLPA issue. Players are not forced to play.
Support the guy who’s shortening his life for your enjoyment not the billionaire owner who makes heaps of money regardless if they pay the player more”…….many of these guys who are “shortening their lives” are making livings that many of us can only dream of….and they’e been on a trajectory towards pro sports that began way back probably in Pop Warner and has continued through Grade and High School and College where they were adored as gods because they could play football while getting a free education which. many threw away….not jealous at all, just realistic…..they get paid a kings ransom to play a sport, and many can’t spell cat if given the c and t…..maybe you should stop romanticizing about them “putting their lives on the line” because they can walk away any time and join the real world…..
Not jealous at all
At first, I thought you were worried about the members of our military, but then realized you meant entertainers who can walk away any time, many with millions in their pocket after only working for a year or two.
Your comparison player/owner is not fitting (although I do understand your point): A team must honor what it has guaranteed to the player, regardless of his performance; this is the team’s commitment. I think the player commits himself to play for the stipulated salary – and currently Ekeler seems to put that in question.
Maybe he doesn’t want to. Maybe he’d like to stay but know he’s taken care of instead of grinding his body down to not get paid at the end.
The NFL is the 1 sport where I have zero issue with players demanding more if they are worth it because they are cut if they aren’t. Owners don’t honor contracts so why should players!
This is the issue with contracts that are not guaranteed. The team can cut the player before the end of the contract, and players ask for more money before the end of the contract. MLB does not have this problem.
Did he live up to the contract? I mean if you or I got hurt on the job we don’t get a full salary.
So he got paid for work he didn’t do.
Depends where you work. Many employers involved in the construction industry are deathly afraid of workman’s comp. That’s why they invest so heavily in their safety programs.
We don’t play professional football in the NFL. I wouldn’t start comparing our jobs to theirs…it will get very disappointing.
And again I’m not arguing his value. It’s just comical at times when guys want a raise after a good year despite coming off a bad one. May not have been the best example but it happens
Hey don’t think you have to apologize for anything…..pro athletes live a very entitled life very different from the real world……and they can walk away at any time but never will because as entertainers, they can always find someone that will listen to their stories.
I like Ekeler as a back and he has been an excellent weapon for the Chargers. But there are many backs in the draft available for them and while Ekeler was huge last year, that was last year. He is under contract for another year and shouldn’t have demanded a trade because he is being underpaid in his eyes. He should have keep quiet and let his actions on the field this year dictate his future.
Amen bigjon! These things are so sad and a sign of the times. In the old days, your handshake and your word meant everything… Let alone putting your pen to a contract! Now, someone has a good year and want to renegotiate?
Teams ask players to take pay cuts every year and if the player refuses they are often released. This is isn’t a one way street scenario, it definitely works both ways.
He’s dramatically underpaid. Dude is CMC like and has never complained before. He’s out performed his contract big time. If he wasn’t they’d just cut him and move on cause he’s 27 right? Big mistake to look at his request as no big deal. He gets hurt this year and he will sign one year deals around 3 million to prove it. He’s got nothing to prove when healthy. I dare the Chargers to trade him. Then what? You gotta use draft capital that you don’t have one another RB. Good luck. Bijan Robinson is Day 1 talent and with him you don’t miss Ekeler as much. But you need DB and OL to get over the hump. Pay the man. Don’t be stupid. You can give him one good years lump up front and only guarantee a few million next year to protect yourself. Not many Chargers fans so don’t piss off the ones you got.
Poor Austin. Underpaid at $6 million a year. I feel so sorry for him. He gets only 1 Bentley in the garage instead of two. How about shut your mouth, appreciate what you have and see what others think about you next year? Hmmm , he reminds me of Zeke and we all know what the he produced when handed big $$$.
Ok so say he went out, played and suffered a season ending injury? Now he takes a one year prove-it deal that is probably at or around what he was currently making anyway. Or if he has a big year but no team wants to pay him because RBs are considered low value and replaceable?
Seriously what is so wrong with NFL players (and other professional athletes) wanting some sort of job security and to be paid their market value? I’d assume/hope that us normal people with more normal everyday jobs would want the same thing. Who cares how much money this or that profession makes…just because one profession pays more than another doesn’t mean they just need to “appreciate what you have” and shouldn’t try to get a raise if their performance warrants it.
Sadly I don’t think the chargers can pay him what he worth, hence why they haven’t. Their window is this season and maybe one more before Herbert gets paid. When you have top of the market guys in James, Bosa, Mack and they CB they signed last year (who’s name is escaping me), two high paid WR’s and then they will have to pay a top of the market QB and LT a year after that, they realize there’s no meat left on the bone for RB
Interesting to see what anyone would offer – as giving up picks AND money seems to be a difficult hurdle for teams to overcome this off-season. I doubt San Diego would take less than a 2nd round pick for a guy that is so valuable in the red zone..
It’s a double edge sword with contracts….if you want long term security then you will most likely not be paid along the lines of the market value 3-4 years in the future. You understand that when you sign the long term deal. The security was more important.
If you want value over security, sign a 2 year contract and renegotiate every 2 years.
I get owners can cut contracts whenever they want, but all athletes are aware of that when they sign on the dotted line. They still get their guaranteed money even if cut.
If they continue to perform, then they most likely will get their money by completing the contract. Sakarya cap issues come into play here at times, but someone will pay them if they are performing well. When they don’t perform, they won’t get paid.
Yall completely miss the point on why most of these players ask for a trade or new contract. They’re doing so because they’re either underpaid to what they’re producing (and in the case of Ekeler, one year away from free agency) and/or have no guaranteed money left on their deal (so limited job security). They want to get paid because if they get injured, the team will just let them walk in a year and the player would likely have to take a one-year prove it deal elsewhere (or in the case of someone like Ekeler who plays a low-value position, find themselves out of the league and replaced by guys on rookie contracts).
You speak of players not living up to their contracts like teams don’t do the same thing every year asking players to take pay cuts, rework their deals, or flat out cutting players before their contract ends.
Sure professional athletes make a ton of money, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want job security like every other person with a job. If you worked a job that you were putting a high amount of wear and tear on your body everyday, you would also want job security and to be paid according to your skill/performance level.
Never had more than 20 carries in a game.. Pass catching out of the backfield doesn’t get you paid, ask Leveon Bell.. And Lev was 10x the runner Ekeler is. Ekeler is good, and someone will pay him, but I wouldn’t pay him to be my bell cow RB1… Only if he’s complimented by someone who’s better in between the tackles.
He just wants a chance at a championship and it definitely isn’t with the chsrgers
I don’t think it has anything to do with the championship. I think he made it clear that it’s all about the money.
Well if you play for the chargers it’s never about a championship lol
Ekeler has to move now as he can’t afford not to cash in at age 27 as a running back.
Ekeler might settle for a guaranteed extension with good money on it for one year and okay money for two years. $24 million for three years, fully guaranteed might get the job done. Even $20 million with performance targets to take it to $24 million. And Ekeler would continue on his current cap for this year. There’s a way here to get a fair deal done for both sides.
Players only get leverage one time during their career. Teams have control via the draft, control at the end of the first contract via the TAG designations, and all during their career they can be cut at anytime. This is his last contract & he has some leverage so good for him in using it. Stop hating on a RB who are abused mightily in HS & then college and are easily replaced in the draft. This is why the position is devalued as a first round pick.
If you want to be paid what you are worth just sign a 1 year contract every year. Would be kind of fun if after rookie contract runs out all future contracts had to be 1 yr fully guaranteed type contracts.
Not a big fan of the, I’m underpaid approach. Trust me, bro, you are not under paid for playing a game.
I’m really surprised not another player follows Cousins’ playbook. I haven’t seen another player, regardless of talent level, play the NFL contract game perfectly. From 4th round pick to back to back franchise tags. Then a short 3 year deal, followed by a few more 1 year deals. All guaranteed.
All we hear from the players is they want ‘long term deals’ followed by some 3 years later ‘I’m underpaid’. No kidding the cap rises by $20m each year! Do short deals and capitalize on the profits of the game.
They can’t have both; long term deals, followed by I’m underpaid shortly thereafter.
Not disagreeing with the man nor any comments here, but it just occurred to me what sports would be like if salaries were based, in part, on Annual Reviews (ya know, like us common folk)
I have Isiah Spiller in fantasy so please trade him
Chargers have all the power and should be smart. Tell him to play it out. Hit him with the franchise tag next year age 28. Then age 29 and all the mileage on the legs, bye bye. Sucks for him for sure but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the smart move by the chargers.