Not a lot has happened since the Chargers officially granted permission to Austin Ekeler and his team to find a potential trade suitor for the veteran running back.
For those who have lived under a rock over the past few weeks, Ekeler is holding steady that he’s criminally underpaid after leading the NFL in touchdowns over the past two seasons with 38, a whole 12 more than the next closest player.
In a recent interview between Brandon Staley and NFL Network’s Steve Wyche, the team’s third-year head coach spoke publicly about the situation for the first time since the initial reports came out around the start of the new league year.
“We’ve been in full communication with his team,” Staley told Wyche. “I think there’s alignment and a way forward. We want him to be a Charger. I think that that’s something that (general manager) Tom (Telesco) has said. It’s something I’ve said. We want this guy to be a Charger. We’re also respectful of his position, and we’re gonna see where it goes. There’s gonna be time now between now and our first game, and we’ll see what happens. But I know the Chargers feel very strongly about Austin Ekeler. He’s just been fantastic for us.”
Most of the interview between Staley and Wyche covered the team’s playoff loss to the Jaguars and how the franchise plans to move forward towards the 2023 season all while trying to shake the baggage that will surely follow them from that disaster. Staley believes the locker room is as close as its’ ever been and that’s a big reason he believes the team is capable of getting to where they need to be this season.
However, I have a hard time believing in that sentiment should Ekeler find himself wearing different colors in 2023. Josh Kelley was the only competent runner behind Ekeler this past season but he still hasn’t shown enough to warrant confidence as a potential starter, despite exhibiting real improvement from his sophomore campaign into year three.
As Staley also points out in the interview, there’s still plenty of time between now and the team’s first regular season game. A solution is very much possible, even if we don’t quite see it materializing right now.