The Chargers’ running game was lackluster in 2022, to say the least. No one needs to remind us just how porous it was trying to watch either of the team’s four reserve backs try to find success behind the team’s oft-injured front five.
While many other backs would also look pretty middling in the same situation, the Chargers could be pressed to find upgrades nonetheless this offseason to help raise the floor of the position heading into another year with lofty expectations.
Over at Pro Football Network, analyst Ian Valentino pegs the Chargers as one of three ideal landing spots for former Bucs running back Leonard Fournette. At 28 years old, he’s nothing more than a battering ram with receiving upside, but the price of Fournette’s next contract is likely to be in a cap-friendly realm due to those factors I just listed.
Valentino goes on to note that Ekeler could choose to hold out for a new contract after playing on an average of $6 million over the past few seasons. He believes the Chargers should obviously pay Ekeler, but it’d be wise to start actually upgrading the depth behind him instead of throwing darts at mid-round backs for a fourth-consecutive draft.
“Backups Joshua Kelly, Sony Michel, and Isaiah Spiller were awful in 2022, showing a lack of burst and vision,” says Valentino. “LA was fortunate that Ekeler played in all 17 games, or else their run game would’ve been completely worthless.”
“Adding Fournette as a high-end backup can bolster an offense that has expensive playmakers but lacks depth. Sure, he’s a luxury, but if the team is resistant to paying Ekeler then they may need to pivot.”
In three seasons with the Bucs, Fournette has averaged over 600 yards rushing and just under six rushing touchdowns per season. Through the air, he totaled over 1,200 receiving yards and four touchdowns across that same span. Oddly enough, he’s been just as efficient running the football and overall even more productive as a scorer during his time in Tampa Bay than during his first three pro seasons in Jacksonville.
As Valentino states in his article, the addition of Fournette would be a luxury, but if the price is right, I wouldn’t mind spinning the tires on a bigger back to spell Ekeler in his seventh season, especially coming off another workhorse campaign in 2022.