Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is reportedly requesting permission to speak with other teams around the league about a potential trade.
Preliminary extension talks between the Chargers and Ekeler reportedly “did not progress,” and as a result, it sounds like the 27-year-old is trying to figure out what his best move is.
Chargers’ RB Austin Ekeler is requesting permission to speak with other teams about a potential trade after preliminary talks with the team aimed at a contract extension did not progress, his agent Cameron Weiss told ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2023
If Ekeler were traded, he’d likely be one of the biggest names moved this offseason.
The 5-foot-8, 200-pound running back is a nice success story. After going undrafted in 2017, he has made a name for himself at the NFL level.
Ekeler has spent his entire NFL career with the Chargers, and his past couple of seasons have been the best of his career.
In the 2021 campaign, he totaled 911 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He also made a major impact through the air, catching 70 passes for 647 yards and eight touchdowns.
In the 2022 season, his production was similar. He rushed for 915 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per attempt. The Nebraska native added 107 receptions for 722 yards and five scores.
In both the 2021 and 2022 seasons, he led the league in combined rushing and receiving touchdowns.
The Chargers presumably don’t want to lose Ekeler this offseason. He’s under contract for one more season, and he’d be a difficult player to replace ahead of the 2023 campaign. He’s an extremely important part of L.A.’s offensive system.
But the organization certainly has to keep the long game in mind, and if Ekeler is a threat to leave the Chargers after the 2023 season, then trading him away now makes some sense.
The Chargers are coming off a season in which they made the playoffs for the first time in a few years. Unfortunately, their campaign ended in heartbreaking fashion, as they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the postseason.
L.A. is looking to get over the hump and already has some great pieces in place, but losing Ekeler would certainly be tough for fans to stomach. It’s unclear if the Chargers will honor the running back’s request to speak with other teams, so that’s something to monitor as the story continues to unfold.