Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler will stay with the team after adding $1.75 million in incentives to his contract this season, a league source confirmed to Athleticism. Here’s what you need to know:
- Ekeler, 28, requested a trade from the Chargers in March after contract talks broke down.
- In April, the running back told SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio that the “worst-case scenario” is that he plays for Los Angeles in 2023 and seeks a long-term contract when he becomes a free agent after the season. He also said he was looking for a team interested in making a multi-year commitment with him.
- Ekeler was not introduced to the Chargers’ first organized team activity on Monday, but he prefers to practice on his own this offseason. He missed all the OTAs last year before joining the team for the mandatory minicamp, so the absence isn’t necessarily related to his current contract situation.
- Coach Brandon Staley said he expects Ekeler to be present for the mandatory minicamp.
AthleticismInstant analysis of:
The Chargers running back has been one of the most powerful weapons in the backfield over the past two seasons, whether judging traditional stats or advanced stats. Here’s a look at some advanced stat rankings via TruMedia to prove the power of Ekeler:
Expected points added per target/rush (minimum 200 hits)
- Ranking 2021: Eighth (26 qualified)
- Ranking 2022: Fourth (30 qualified)
EPA by rush
- Ranking 2021: Sixth
- Ranking 2022: ninth
It’s also worth nothing that other running backs like Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook, who were both part of the 2017 rookie class with Ekeler, have dropped those metrics significantly over the past two seasons. — larry Incumbent
Preliminary talks between Ekeler and Los Angeles over a contract extension failed to progress, which spurred his trade request.
Ekeler is set to enter the final year of the four-year, $24.5 million extension he signed in 2020, according to Spotrac.com. He was one of the most productive running backs in the NFL during that streak, scoring 38 total touchdowns over his final two seasons. No other player has more than 26 over time.
Via TruMedia, his 52 total touchdowns since 2019 ranks second among all non-districts, behind only Derrick Henry. During that span, he ranks second among 52 qualified RBs (minimum 500 routes run) in yards per route (1.92).
(Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today)