Austin Ekeler

Free Agency Notes: Giants, Vikings, Jets, Hawks, Huff, Commanders, Ekeler, Raiders, Dolphins, Jacobs, Rams

The Bryce Huff market did not reach the level of Jonathan Greenard‘s, and Danielle Hunter also scored a better guarantee compared to the Jets‘ contract-year breakout pass rusher. But the Eagles needed to give Huff a three-year, $51.1MM deal with $34MM guaranteed. That came about because, per Huff, the Commanders, Giants, Seahawks and Vikings joined the Jets in pursuing him. The Jets had expressed interest in keeping the former UDFA, who led the team in sacks last season, but their 2023 Will McDonald draft choice appeared to point Huff elsewhere.

Minnesota came in early with its Greenard signing (four years, $76MM, $38MM fully guaranteed), while Washington turned to one of Dan Quinn‘s ex-Cowboys charges — Dorance Armstrongsoon after. The Giants made a bigger splash hours later by trading for Brian Burns, in a deal that involved a second-rounder going to the Panthers and fifth-rounders being swapped, while the Seahawks devoted their funding to fortifying their interior D-line (via the Leonard Williams deal). Huff, 26, led the NFL in pressure rate last season but was not used as a full-time D-end. It should be expected the Eagles, who have Haason Reddick in trade rumors, will up Huff’s usage.

Here is the latest free agency fallout:

  • As Lloyd Cushenberry and Andre James scored nice contracts, the center market has not seen Connor Williams come off the board. It should be a while on that front. Rehabbing an ACL tear, Williams is not expected to sign anywhere anytime soon, agent Drew Rosenahus said during a WSVP interview (via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson). Williams going down in Week 14 certainly has impacted his market. Pro Football Focus graded the two-year Dolphins blocker as a top-five center in each of his two Miami seasons. Ahead of his age-27 season, the ex-Cowboys draftee will probably need to show teams he is healthy or on track to full strength before a deal commences.
  • The Raiders lost their starting running back in free agency, seeing Josh Jacobs join the Packers. Zamir White is tentatively in place as Las Vegas’ starter, but the now-Tom Telesco-run club did show interest in Austin Ekeler, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets. Telesco was with the Chargers when they signed Ekeler as a UDFA and when they extended him, but the GM did not greenlight a second extension last year. That led to trade rumors and a small incentive package. Ekeler signed a two-year, $8.43MM Commanders deal, indicating (via the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala) the NFC East team showed the most interest. Despite leading the NFL in TDs in 2021 and 2022, Ekeler received only $4.2MM fully guaranteed — ninth among FA backs this year.
  • As for Jacobs, his guarantee fell well short of Saquon Barkley‘s and shy of the Bears’ commitment to D’Andre Swift. The Packers signed Jacobs to a four-year, $48MM deal, but Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio notes only the $12.5MM signing bonus is guaranteed (plus a $1.2MM 2024 salary). Beyond 2024, this is a pay-as-you-go deal. Jacobs is due a $5.93MM roster bonus on Day 5 of the 2025 league year, creating a pivotal date for Green Bay’s backfield. The Packers are known for shying away from guarantees beyond Year 1, in most instances, but it is interesting to see the gap between guarantees Barkley could secure ($26MM) and Jacobs’ locked-in money.
  • The gap between Xavier McKinney‘s Packers deal and the Ramstwo-year Kamren Curl pact ended up wider than the aforementioned RBs. Curl agreed to a $9MM accord, per the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala. Curl, 25, has two seasons to show he can command a more lucrative contract. But McKinney (four years, $68MM) showed how valuable an age-25 offseason can be for earning power, making the Curl contract look quite Rams-friendly.
  • Jonnu Smith‘s two-year Dolphins deal came in at $8.4MM, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Miami will guarantee the former Tennessee, New England and Atlanta tight end $3.96MM. No guarantees are present beyond 2024,’s Albert Breer tweets. Miami’s three-year Jordyn Brooks accord lands slightly lower than initially reported, with Wilson adding the ex-Seattle linebacker signed for $26.25MM. Brooks’ contract features $16MM guaranteed; just $9.5MM of that sum is guaranteed at signing.

Commanders To Sign RB Austin Ekeler

Letting Antonio Gibson walk (to the Patriots) earlier Monday, the Commanders are bringing in a bigger name. Today’s running back carousel will now see Austin Ekeler change time zones.

Ekeler is headed to Washington on a two-year deal worth up to $11.43MM,’s Tom Pelissero tweets. Ekeler led the NFL in touchdowns in 2021 and ’22, being a vital piece during the early Justin Herbert years. But the Chargers did not budge on an extension. This will lead the dynamic back to join Kliff Kingsbury in Washington.

In terms of base value, the Commanders are set to pay Ekeler $8.43MM,’s Albert Breer tweets. Ekeler’s $4.21MM in 2024 is fully guaranteed, and he will be tied to a $3MM number in 2025. Additionally, $510K in per-game roster bonuses are in place each season. Incentives — worth $1.5MM each season — comprise the remaining $3MM.

This will reunite Ekeler with ex-Chargers HC Anthony Lynn, who was in charge when the team extended the former UDFA. That was a four-year $24.5MM contract extension he signed with the organization back in 2020. Last offseason, Ekeler sought out a raise on a new Chargers deal, and when an extension didn’t materialize, he asked for and was granted permission to seek a trade. No suitors emerged, and he ultimately remained in Los Angeles on a re-worked contract.

The 2023 campaign was an important one for Ekeler given his status as a pending free agent. The 28-year-old was limited to 14 games, however, and he was less efficient when on the field (3.5 yards per carry) than any other season in his career. After scoring 38 total touchdowns from 2021-22, Ekeler managed only six as part of a Chargers offense which struggled across the board but especially in the ground game.

Considering his connection to the coaching staff, the Commanders surely know what they have in their new RB. The Commanders watched Gibson, their primary pass-catching back, leave for the Patriots today, opening a major hole on offense. The team is still rostering Brian Robinson, who topped 1,100 yards from scrimmage and scored nine touchdowns during his second season in the NFL. The team will surely lean on both of their top RBs, especially with Robinson showing some development in his receiving game in 2023.

The Chargers already started preparing for a new RBs corps today, as they agreed to a deal with former Ravens back Gus Edwards. 2024 backup Joshua Kelley is also a free agent, so the Chargers will surely be in the market for additional depth at the position.

Chargers To Let RB Austin Ekeler Test Free Agency

The 2024 free agent class is set to feature a number of high-profile running backs. Austin Ekeler is likely to be one of them with his Chargers deal about to expire.

Ekeler is expected to reach the open market, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. That comes as no surprise given the nature of Ekeler’s 2023 offseason, one in which he asked for an was granted permission to seek a trade. He will have the ability to depart the organization he has spent his entire career with, although the plethora of accomplished backs who will also be available will no doubt limit his value.

None of the three running backs who received the franchise tag last year (Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard) are expected to be tagged a second time. No member of that trio performed at a level in 2023 which would make them an obvious candidate for a long-term deal, something which has no doubt informed their respective teams’ hesitancy to make a lucrative commitment. Schefter confirms that Titans stalwart Derrick Henry is also expected to reach free agency, something which was foreshadowed throughout the campaign.

Ekeler sought out a raise on a new Chargers deal, and his inability to land one led to his trade request. No suitors emerged, and he ultimately remained in Los Angeles on a re-worked contract. The two-time NFL leader in total touchdowns thus set himself up for free agency, while being a vocal member of the league’s running backs who have aired their frustrations over the stagnant nature of the position’s market. In an era where a number of positions have seen surging values, the RB spot has flatlined.

The 2023 campaign was an important one for Ekeler given his status as a pending free agent. The 28-year-old was limited to 14 games, however, and he was less efficient when on the field (3.5 yards per carry) than any other season in his career. After scoring 38 total touchdowns from 2021-22, Ekeler managed only six as part of a Chargers offense which struggled across the board but especially in the ground game.

While then-head coach Brandon Staley hinted at a divvying up of running back opportunities late in the campaign, Ekeler averaged 12.8 carries per game in 2023. That falls in line with his usage rate of the past four seasons, which has seen his career carries total reach 990. Many backs at his age have more mileage on them, but last season’s struggles will still likely be a key factor working against him on the open market.

The former UDFA landed a four-year, $24.5MM deal in 2020. That $6.13MM AAV ranks 11th in the league amongst running backs, and Ekeler will likely be hard-pressed to improve on his standing in the position’s pecking order on his new deal, regardless of where it comes from. Chargers backup Joshua Kelley is also a pending free agent, so the team could see significant turnover at the RB spot in the near future.

Chargers Considering Reducing RB Austin Ekeler’s Role?

The Chargers’ offense has struggled to find an effective run-pass balance this season despite the team’s decision to retain running back Austin Ekeler. The contract-year back has not had a productive campaign though, and a change in workload could be coming.

Ekeler requested a trade this offseason, one in which the running back position saw its market value continue to dwindle. No suitors emerged, and the 28-year-old agreed to an adjusted contract which included performance-based incentives. That set him up for free agency in 2024, and put pressure on him to deliver a strong season in advance of hitting the open market.

Instead, the former UDFA has struggled. After leading the league in total touchdowns each of the past two seasons, Ekeler has only found the end zone five times in 2023. His yards per carry average sits at 3.5, the lowest of his career. With the Chargers averaging just 98 yards per game on the ground, a shift to more of a committee approach could be on the horizon.

“Competition for carries is going to be something that you can see happening,” head coach Brandon Staley said when speaking on the subject, via ESPN’s Kris Rhim. “We’re going to keep exploring, making adjustments, so that we can find that rhythm that I’ve been talking about. That’s certainly one way to do it.”

Ekeler has averaged 14 carries per game, the most of his career. His 126 attempts comfortably leads the team, though backup Joshua Kelley has received 94 totes. The latter is thus on pace to set a new career-high in usage, and he would represent the likeliest candidate to see an increased workload in the coming weeks if a change does take place. Like Ekeler, Kelley is a pending free agent.

Still, the former should be counted on as a focal point of the Chargers’ offense, a unit which has dealt with injuries at the receiver position. The impending return of Josh Palmer will help in that regard, but a late playoff push would be greatly boosted by a return to form on Ekeler’s part. He still has a degree of confidence from the coaching staff based on Staley’s remarks.

“We know that Austin is a good running back,” Staley added. “We just haven’t found any rhythm in the last couple of weeks in the run game. Just need to keep after it and keep working hard in practice.”

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler To Return In Week 6

For the first time since the regular season opener, the Chargers will have their top running back available. Austin Ekeler is off the team’s Week 6 injury report, meaning he will suit up on Monday night.

Ekeler suffered an ankle injury in Week 1, leading to his first stretch of missed games since 2021. His absence dealt a blow to the Chargers’ ground game and left the team’s offense without one of its most important contributors. Especially with wideout Mike Williams out for the year, Ekeler’s pass-catching prowess will be welcomed as Los Angeles looks to come off the bye with a strong performance.

Despite missing the past three games, Ekeler is still the team’s second-leading rusher with 117 yards. That illustrates the significance of his return, though backup Joshua Kelley has had noteworthy games as a first-teamer as well. As a result, the Chargers sit in the middle of the pack with respect to rushing yards per game (120). That figure nevertheless has the potential to increase with Ekeler back in the fold.

The 28-year-old had a contentions offseason as he sought out a raise from his existing pact, which is set to expire in March. Ekeler’s 39 total touchdowns since the start of the 2021 campaign lead the league, and he has surpassed 1,500 scrimmage yards three times since 2019. No serious trade suitors emerged after his request to be moved went public, though, and he ultimately agreed to a reworked pact which upped his potential earnings for this season.

Ekeler’s incentives are tied to a Pro Bowl nod along with yardage and touchdown benchmarks. Reaching them will be more difficult given his missed time, but he will resume his endeavor to land a lucrative new contract in 2024 free agency – and in doing so buck the trend at the running back spot – against the Cowboys in primetime. How much of a workload he handles (and the effects on Kelley’s playing time and that of the team’s other complimentary backs) in his return will be interesting to see.

Chargers Rule Out RB Austin Ekeler For Week 2

It is now official that Chargers running back Austin Ekeler will miss his first game since 2020, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, due to an ankle injury that has been bothering him since the team’s loss to the Dolphins last weekend. Schefter also reports that defenders Eric Kendricks and Chris Rumph have been ruled out for tomorrow’s matchup in Tennessee, as well.

The loss of Ekeler is obviously the most significant, but last week’s game showed that Los Angeles may be set up well for his absence. While Ekeler showed his usual dual-threat impressiveness, rushing for 117 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown while adding 47 yards on four receptions through the air, backup running back Joshua Kelley was nearly as productive.

Kelley matched Ekeler’s 16 rushing attempts, amassing a still impressive 91 yards as a result and also scoring a touchdown. While Kelley hasn’t necessarily shown a similar aptitude for receiving out of the backfield in his career, backup running back and undrafted rookie Elijah Dotson was known for his versatility during his time with the Bears of Northern Colorado. In his final year of college football, Dotson caught 48 balls for 300 yards and two touchdowns. If the Chargers don’t want to shoulder Kelley with receiving back duties, Dotson should be more than capable of stepping in.

Highlighting the loss of Ekeler is not meant to minimize at all the loss of Kendricks. Kendricks is half of the team’s starting inside linebacker duo alongside Kenneth Murray. In last week’s loss to the high-powered Miami offense, Kendricks was one of only four defenders who played every defensive snap, the others being safeties Derwin James and Alohi Gilman and cornerback Michael Davis.

The Chargers didn’t see much action from backup off-ball linebackers in Week 1 at all. They do have depth at that spot on the roster, though. The three healthy options on the active roster (Tanner Muse, Nick Niemann, and Amen Ogbongbemiga) are all primarily special teamers who have played on defense sparingly throughout their respective careers. Los Angeles did use a third-round pick this year to acquire former Washington State linebacker Daiyan Henley, but after failing to play in Week 1, Henley is listed as doubtful to make his NFL debut tomorrow.

As for Rumph, the third-year rotation edge rusher will have to wait at least one more week to make his season debut. The team will likely hope to be seeing the return of Ekeler and Kendricks by that time, as well, but for now, they’ll have to make do without two of their more talented starters. To help fill in this week, the Chargers promoted outside linebacker Brevin Allen and safety Dean Marlowe from the practice squad as standard gameday elevations.

Austin Ekeler Not Expected To Travel With Chargers For Week 2 Game

The Chargers are on track to be without their top running back this week against the Titans. Austin Ekeler is listed as doubtful for the game but will likely be downgraded further soon.

Ekeler is not expected to travel with the Chargers for the Week 2 road tilt, The Athletic’s Daniel Popper notes. Considering Ekeler missed all three Bolts practices this week, he was viewed as a longshot to suit up in Nashville.

This will be Ekeler’s first missed game since he contracted COVID-19 in December 2021 and missed a Texans matchup. The dynamic back has not missed a game due to injury since Nov. 22, 2020. In between that 2020 hamstring injury and the ankle ailment he encountered in Week 1, Ekeler has become one of the NFL’s best running backs. His touchdown against the Dolphins gave him an NFL-most 39 since the start of the 2021 season.

Ekeler looked to suffer the injury in the third quarter of the Bolts’ shootout loss to the Dolphins. He managed to squeeze in a few more plays but was walking with a limp. Still, the seventh-year back totaled 117 rushing yards in the game. Backup Joshua Kelley added 91 yards on the ground for a suddenly run-committed Chargers squad. Kelley, a 2020 fourth-round pick who has served as a top Ekeler backup throughout his career, will be expected to be Los Angeles’ lead back against the Titans.

Somehow a zero-time Pro Bowler despite leading the NFL in touchdowns over the past two seasons, Ekeler angled for a contract adjustment this offseason and ended up being granted permission to seek a trade. As the running back market crashed, significant trade interest did not emerge. The Chargers ended up agreeing to a small incentive package with their veteran starter. Ekeler, 28, remains tied to the four-year, $24.5MM deal he inked back in 2020.

Returning from this ankle injury and re-establishing his top-tier form will be critical for the Division II product’s 2024 earning potential. As of now, Ekeler is on track to hit free agency after this season. The Chargers have exclusive negotiating rights with the Western State (Colo.) alum until mid-March and can follow the Cowboys, Giants and Raiders’ path by franchise-tagging him as well. For the time being, Ekeler will aim to come back and deliver a third straight dominant season.

Latest On RB Coalition

Last night, a group of the NFL’s veteran running backs got together on a Zoom call organized by Chargers rusher Austin Ekeler. There was a reportedly strong turnout of NFL-talent for a meeting that ultimately gained little ground. Mike Florio of NBC Sports was able to provide some details on what transpired during the meeting.

According to Florio, despite some of the league’s best backs being in attendance, little progress was made towards a solution. The league’s current collective bargaining agreement is in place through 2030, and it doesn’t provide the running backs much leeway in their options. The NFL Players Association, which was not a part of the conversation last night, can’t necessarily contribute much to the conversation as, due to the nature of a league with a salary cap, giving money to running backs necessitates that money be taken from other positions.

That didn’t stop NFLPA president JC Tretter from suggesting in an interview that running backs could simply stage hold-ins by embellishing, exaggerating, or simply fabricating injuries. That suggestion was brought up on the call but quickly dismissed as it would feed “into the narrative that (running backs are) prone to injury.” It would also provide backs further down the depth chart an opportunity to prove they’re a better roster value than they’re more “injury-prone” counterparts.

Other ideas that could help the group include the use of the league’s Performance-Based Pay Pool to supplement running back income, shortening the position’s track to a second contract, or making adjustments to the franchise tag formula. Performance-Based Pay would reward the league’s top backs whose production exceeds their meager contracts. Shortening rookie contracts for running backs is a complicated solution that would likely require the NFLPA to negotiate on behalf of the running backs, which, again, can take away from other positions represented by the Association.

The franchise tag formula provides two possible solutions. The first would see the formula modified to simply increase the value of running back tags. The normal calculation would be increased to make tagging rushers a bit more costly of an option and force teams to explore second contracts with more dedication. The second solution is actually a bit of an extension on the first, suggesting a source for that increase. Currently, all offensive linemen’s franchise tag amounts are based on the contracts of tackles (the highest earning members of their position group). For this reason, interior linemen often don’t get tagged because they would be paid a tackle’s rate. If the league were to break up the offensive line into three categories (tackles, guards, centers), the interior linemen would no longer be receiving tackle-money, providing some wiggle room for running backs.

One of the players who attended the call was Browns running back Nick Chubb, who spoke to the media about the discussion, according to Jake Trotter of ESPN. Chubb confirmed that such elite athletes as Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and Saquon Barkley all attended and contributed to the conversation.

Chubb also elaborated on the feeling of being handcuffed in terms of what action can be taken. He expanded on a common complaint that running back is the only position whose production hurts them. If they go out and rush for 2,000 yards, instead of being rewarded, they are assumed to be worn down. Chubb is a year away from a contract year himself, but he fully recognizes that he could find himself in this situation during the next offseason.

Regardless, right now, without the help of the NFLPA, there isn’t much for running backs to do. Some backs pointed out that their own agents have contributed to the problem (agents were not on the call). Often, agents will backload ridiculous numbers into a contract that inflate the annual average value (AAV) to amounts that a running back will never see.

Saints rusher Alvin Kamara‘s contract is a perfect example. With an AAV of $15MM, Kamara has only seen that much money in the first year of his deal, when he received a $15MM signing bonus. In 2021, he only received $2MM cash and, for the three subsequent years, he earned/will earn between $11MM and $11.80MM cash. These numbers are all so much lower than the AAV because, in the final year of the contract, Kamara is set to receive $25MM cash. The chances of Kamara reaching that final, big payout are extremely low, but that amount made what was really a $10MM per year contract much more palatable.

The running backs need to ensure that their agents are on the same page about whatever strategies they decide to implement. Florio wisely points out that, while teams are not allowed to collude in regard to negotiating strategies, players and their agents absolutely have the right to collaborate.

Veteran RBs Planning To Address Depressed Market Together

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler saw the writing on the wall. As he watched some of the best at his position contemplate their options under a franchise tag, he knew he could be dealing with the same issues next offseason. He made an attempt to remedy the situation but ended up finding out just how dire his prospects were. Now, with none of the league’s rushers finding an effective solution in their own negotiations, it appears they’ve decided to put their heads together in an attempt to get the contracts they deserve.

It started on Monday, when, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, some of the league’s veteran rushers organized a group text in which they would brainstorm strategies for improving their grim outlooks. One of the first initial strategies has been the utilization of social media.

While, on its surface, that sounds superficial and unproductive, it’s really hard to fix a problem if no one acknowledges it. When players go on social media to talk about their issues with the system, especially during a relatively down news cycle, media pundits will pick up their calls and magnify them. Not only that, but it also sparks debate between the analysts of the sport, who tend to present and argue both sides, helping to delineate the most useful points of contention and possible solutions.

To grow their efforts past a group text, the running backs have also planned a Zoom meeting, set for tonight, in order to further discussions, according to Florio. The meeting has been organized by Ekeler and will reportedly involve the NFL Players Association in some capacity. It’s a little difficult for the NFLPA to advise too much, considering that, in a league where value is determined within a salary cap that all positions share, the money to pay running backs has to be taken away from other positions that are also being represented by the Players Association. That being said, they can still likely offer some sound negotiating techniques and potential solutions. They can also potentially serve as a sounding board to offer opinions on the viability of different options.

Ultimately, the group will likely have to continue to take the situation into their own hands, as they’re negotiating only for themselves. They may suggest a shortening of the path to free agency to keep running backs from spending their premier years on a measly rookie deal. Former NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth suggested a more concentrated utilization of the league’s Performance-Based Pay Pool, an approximately $336MM fund used to reward players whose high-levels of play are not reflected in their paychecks. Foxworth suggested that, essentially, running backs could pad their depressed contracts by meeting certain performance and playing time benchmarks.

Regardless, the group and the league have at most a year before the situation rears its ugly head again. The three backs that are playing on franchise tags this year, Saquon Barkley on the Giants, Josh Jacobs on the Raiders, and Tony Pollard on the Cowboys, will all head back to free agency after this season. So, too, will the Titans’ Derrick Henry, the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor, the Ravens’ J.K. Dobbins, the Commanders’ Antonio Gibson, Ekeler, and many others. With so many major contributors set to hit the market, a determination will soon have to be made on how to compensate these rushers for what they bring to their respective teams.

Chargers Rumors: Ekeler, Johnston, Salary Cap

Within a limited salary cap, as other positions begin to see an increase in the average value of their contracts, the space in the salary cap for those increases has to come from somewhere. As positions like quarterback and defensive tackle are reaching new highs, it seems that the value of running backs is slowly diminishing.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler went on The Rich Eisen Show this week to voice his opinion on the situation. Ekeler is entering a contract year and was interested in renewing his deal for more time in Los Angeles. When it became clear that the Chargers weren’t willing to meet his demands on a new deal, they allowed him to seek a trade. Unfortunately for Ekeler, it soon became apparent that no one was willing to meet his demands, sending him back to the negotiating table. Without extending his time with the team, Los Angeles did show a bit of their appreciation for Ekeler, reworking his contract in a way that allows him to make more money in 2023 through incentives.

Ekeler understandably left the situation frustrated with the development of the running back market. His view is that running backs carry the ball and impact the game more and that they’re not getting compensated in a corresponding fashion. While he certainly has a point, being concerned that top running backs are getting nearly the money they should be able to, the overall market of the position is being dragged down by the success of its younger players. Due to the recent successes seen by running backs on rookie contracts, several teams feel much more comfortable going to the draft for their primary rushers, making them less inclined to pay out large contracts to veterans, regardless of their caliber.

As a result, Ekeler sees backup wide receivers making more money than him, despite their lesser impact on the team’s success. It’s an unfortunate development that, this offseason, has resulted in contract disputes from four of the league’s top-eight running backs in yards from scrimmage last year.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of Los Angeles this summer:

  • The Chargers used a first-round pick on wide receiver Quentin Johnston this year, and there is not an expectation that he will be coming off the bench much as a rookie, according to Daniel Popper of The Athletic. Despite Josh Palmer stepping up in a big way during his sophomore season while position leaders Keenan Allen and Mike Williams each missed some time with injury, Popper expects Johnston to jump Palmer for the WR3 role at some point this year. Johnston has some development to undergo still before claiming the spot, but Palmer’s absence in the spring (due to injury) certainly helps Johnston’s case. Popper expects the position battle to take place in training camp, and he expects Johnston to eventually win out.
  • Additionally, Popper addressed the team’s reluctance to spend on free agency this offseason despite having a little more the $12MM in open cap space for 2023. It’s a popular opinion that the Chargers are already looking ahead towards the 2024 season. Next year, four players will have cap hits over $30MM, and that’s not including quarterback Justin Herbert who, if forced to play out his fifth-year option, would hold a $29.50MM cap hit in 2024. Instead of spending their money this summer on contracts that may have an impact into next year, Los Angeles may be angling to take advantage of rollover cap space. According to Popper, “teams are allowed to roll over any unused cap space from one season to the next.” $12MM of rollover could do a lot towards what could end up being a pricey 2024 season. In contrast, the highest cap hit the team is dealing with in 2023 comes in at $17MM.