Austin Ekeler shocked the Chargers fan base when the news broke that he and his camp were asking for permission to seek a trade following stalled talks on a potential contract extension ahead of the 2023 season. Soon after the initial report, the Chargers did in fact grant permission to Ekeler but nothing has yet to come from their work over the past week.
Ekeler continues to post his workouts to his Instagram account and do the rest of his normal offseason routine, and that also includes making the rounds on various podcasts. Recently, he was invited onto the Green Light with Chris Long podcast where of course the recent trade request was brought up.
The team’s current RB1 went out of his way to make sure that everyone in and out of the Chargers fan base knew that what he’s doing is not at all based in some form of negative feelings towards the Chargers. He’s a very productive player in this league and this is all just part of the business of the NFL.
“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.”
“Obviously, I have one more year on my contract there, so I’m contractually obligated to play for them for this upcoming year. So, we’re in a situation where it’s like, look, we have no guarantees or anything like that this year, so kind of in a spot where I’ve been outplaying my contract, and we might have an opportunity to go seek out other options that can bring me up.”
Every even-keeled fan should understand Ekeler’s point of view. The guy has 38 total touchdowns over the past season and just set the franchise record for receptions by a running back in his latest campaign. The deal he signed in 2020 was amazing value for the Chargers and I don’t even think they could have predicted how much he’d out-perform his current contract.
Unfortunately for him — and let’s be honest, it’s not only his position right now — the running back market is not doing too hot right now. Teams know better now to not hand out massive eight-figure contracts to a position that historically plummets in production as they inch closer to the age of 30. Ekeler certainly is a different case as he doesn’t have the same ware and tear on his treads like other backs pushing 30, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to get the Chargers to budge.
At the end of the day, Ekeler made it known that he wouldn’t necessarily sit out the year should he fail to find a trade partner. He still loves the guys in the Chargers locker room and, as he put it, the “worst-case scenario” is that he plays one final year in Los Angeles before becoming a free agent in 2024.
“But for me, it’s like, if there’s an opportunity to get more value, than why would you not jump on that? Why would you not at least try out the options? And worst-case scenario — it’s not even a worst-case, really — but, OK, go play on the last year of your deal in L.A., then become a free agent.”
#Chargers’ RB Austin Ekeler speaks in detail on his frustrations with his current contract and trade request on the @greenlightpod with Chris Long:— Tanner Phifer (@TannerPhiferNFL) March 21, 2023
“I feel like there’s no timeline on this. I’m so underpaid right now as far as my contract and what I contribute to the team, I am… pic.twitter.com/QP6agGsUrw