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Austin Ekeler says stalled contract talks were ‘a punch in the face’, still willing to play for LAC in 2023

“I want to be a Charger.”

Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Austin Ekeler trade request saga has only lost steam since the initial reports came out roughly three weeks ago regarding the Chargers’ RB1 and his dissatisfaction with his current salary. After 38 total touchdowns scored over the past two seasons, I think just about every one of us would want a raise too, right?

Throughout those three weeks, the team has granted Ekeler and his team the ability to search for a trade partner, but nothing has come to fruition just yet. Understandably, Ekeler has also been quite frustrated with the whole ordeal because, in the end, he still wants to be a member of the Chargers over anything.

During a recent appearance on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, Ekeler noted that it felt like “a punch in the face” once discussions stalled and halted on a potential contract extension. Even after that, however, he still feels no disdain to the franchise that gave him his shot in the NFL.

Still, if we were in his shoes, I guarantee we’d all feel pretty frustrated with how things initially went.

“So now after this year ended, it was around the combine that a lot of these talks start happening. … Basically, we just could not even get close to… it wasn’t even much of a negotiation,” said Ekeler. “It was just kind of a, more so ‘hey, this is what we’re thinking, this is what they’re thinking,’ and it was just OK, we are not on the same page, let’s just end this because I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

“Pretty much after that it was we want to get traded, we want to go and actually look for value somewhere else and see if someone else might have some interest in us in a longer-term partnership. That’s kind of the scenario that I’m in right now and that’s what it’s been. Now we’re just going through and playing the game.”

Seeing as there’s been little to no interest in his services at this point in the offseason, I’d expect it all to ramp up again either during the draft or sometime soon after it ends. There will be a team who exits the draft with a big question mark at the position and that’s likely when a deal will get done, if it ever does.

By the end of the interview, Ekeler was still mindful that he has one year left on his contract and he’s committed to playing regardless of a new deal getting done ahead of time. If he has to go out and score another 18 touchdowns, it seems like he’s willing to do it if it means finally earning the money he believes he deserves.