The Los Angeles Chargers may have someone else lining up to Justin Herbert in the backfield next year. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Chargers and standout running back Austin Ekeler failed to progress in talks on a contract extension, and as a result, the team has given Ekeler permission to look for a trade elsewhere.
Chargers granted permission to RB Austin Ekeler today to seek a trade after the two sides failed to make progress for a new contract, per his agent Cameron Weiss.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2023
The news comes one day after Ekeler requested a trade over the way contract talks were going. The former undrafted free agent is on an extremely team-friendly deal right now, as he is in the final year of a 4-year, $24.5 million contract that is slated to give him a $7.75 million cap hit this season. He will turn 28 in May.
Over the years, Ekeler has turned into one of Herbert’s favorite targets in addition to what he does running the football. Last season, no player accounted for more touchdowns than Ekeler, who ran for 13 and caught another five. It was his second straight season leading the league in touchdown from scrimmage, as he tied with Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor with 20 total scores in 2021. In all, Ekeler ran the ball 204 times for 915 yards during the 2022 campaign and caught 107 passes for another 722 yards.
Losing Ekeler would be yet another major change for the Charger offense during the offseason, as the team has already brought in a new coordinator in former Dallas Cowboys OC Kellen Moore.