Chargers Grant Austin Ekeler Permission To Seek Trade

MARCH 14: The Bolts will allow their dynamic back to see if a trade market forms. They will let Ekeler explore a trade, according to his agent (Twitter link). Running backs’ diminished value aside, the NFL’s two-time reigning touchdown kingpin is now tied to the league’s 15th-most lucrative deal at the position. Rising from UDFA status to a top-tier performer at the position, Ekeler has outplayed his contract. Will another team reward him while giving the Chargers compensation?

MARCH 13: The next few days will be dominated by free agents finding new homes, but trades are also part of this portion of the NFL offseason. One involving Chargers running back Austin Ekeler could be taking place soon, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that he has requested permission to seek a trade.

The trade request follows unsuccessful preliminary discussions with the organization regarding a contract extension. The running back is entering the final season of a four-year, $24.5MM deal and is set to earn $6.25MM in 2023. According to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry, the latest negotiations “failed to progress,” leading to today’s development.

The Chargers may have a tough time affording Ekeler’s next deal. The team recently had to rework the contracts of receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and edge rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack in order to be cap compliant. The front office is also eyeing a significant contract extension for quarterback Justin Herbert, meaning they’ll surely have to make tough decisions elsewhere on the roster.

The 27-year-old running back has transformed from an undrafted free agent into one of the most dominant offensive players in the NFL. Ekeler has topped 900 yards from scrimmage in each of the past five seasons, but he’s taken it to another level over the past two years. In 33 games between the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Ekeler has compiled 3,195 yards from scrimmage and 38 touchdowns.

Ekeler would certainly be an upgrade on most of the free agent running backs, although any suitor would obviously have to give up compensation to acquire the Chargers RB. With Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard all getting slapped with the franchise tag, the top of the RB market includes the likes of Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, and Damien Harris.

The Chargers could theoretically be the in the market for a running back if they end up moving Ekeler. The team is also rostering a pair of unproven RBs in Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller.

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