Earlier this offseason, running back Austin Ekeler sent some surprising reverberations throughout the fan base when it was reported his camp asked permission from the Chargers to seek a trade. Things went a step further when the Bolts eventually agreed to it.
However, a trade never materialized and Ekeler is now firmly committed to the Chargers after the two sides came to an agreement that added $1.75 million in new incentives to his contract.
Still, even with the added incentives — which are all but guaranteed even with some level of regression from Ekeler — the contract is still seen as one of the best bargains in the NFL. In fact, Bleacher Report just ranked the contract as the second-most team-friendly deal on the books for any club. For what it’s worth, the only player deemed to have a more team-friendly deal is Patrick Mahomes and his 10-year, $450 million contract.
Here’s what analyst Alex Kay had to say about Ekeler’s deal:
“The Los Angeles Chargers are getting plenty of mileage out of Austin Ekeler’s contract. The star running back has been a force for the organization, working as a capable main option who contributes heavily as both a rusher and pass-catcher.”
“Ekeler has vastly outperformed expectations after signing a modest four-year, $24.5 million extension in 2020. He’s been especially dominant over the last two seasons, racking up nearly 3,200 yards from scrimmage while scoring 38 touchdowns in that span.”
“Unfortunately for the Bolts, this could be Ekeler’s swan song with the organization. Near the start of the new league year, the back made it clear he wasn’t happy with his current contract. While he walked back a trade request and eventually earned an additional $1.75 million in incentives, Ekeler will soon be seeking higher compensation as one of 2024’s marquee free agents.”
Should Ekeler reach his full incentives, he’ll come away from the 2023 season making $8 million. That still a nice chunk of change, but certainly not what he was looking for when he made the decision to ask for a trade. Either way, those distractions are thankfully behind both him and the team and each side can move forward into 2023 with nothing but the motivation to perform at their best en route to a memorable season in Los Angeles.