Chargers RB Austin Ekeler reportedly rescinds trade request, gets $2M incentive boost

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Austin Ekeler contract extension with Los Angeles Chargers for 2023 Season

Following weeks of trade speculations, Austin Ekeler has made the surprising decision to stay with the Los Angeles Chargers for the final year of his contract, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Chargers, in a bid to retain their veteran running back, have reportedly added $2 million in incentives to Ekeler’s existing contract.

Back in 2020, Ekeler signed a four-year, $24.5 million deal with the Chargers, and his performance since then has been exceptional. From 2021 to 2022, he led the NFL with an impressive 38 combined touchdowns. In the upcoming 2023 season, Ekeler will earn a base salary of $6.25 million, with an additional $1.5 million in prorated bonuses. Moreover, he stands a chance to earn an extra $2 million if he meets undisclosed performance-based targets. Among all skill-position players, Ekeler ranks fourth in total scrimmage yards since 2021 and third among running backs.

The decision to keep Ekeler in Los Angeles is undoubtedly a positive one for the Chargers. With the likes of Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Quentin Johnston in their offensive arsenal, the Chargers possess a formidable collection of weapons. In their pursuit of competitiveness against the Kansas City Chiefs and in the fiercely contested AFC, Ekeler’s presence significantly bolsters their scoring potential.

The Changing Landscape of the Running Back Market

The market for running backs has undergone a significant shift, with teams showing reluctance to make substantial investments in the position. The recent free-agent deals reflect this trend, with only three running backs securing contracts worth at least $12 million: Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, and Jamaal Williams. Interestingly, Sanders’ four-year, $25 million contract with the Carolina Panthers is nearly on par with Ekeler’s deal signed three years ago. Additionally, notable running backs such as Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard have been given franchise tags, leaving them until July 17 to secure long-term extensions.

Given the limited market opportunities and the age factor, renegotiating a new deal proved challenging for the 28-year-old Ekeler. Despite being ranked 13th in average annual value among his peers at the position, Ekeler will have the upcoming season to showcase his worth and potentially secure a more lucrative contract, even though he will turn 29 when the 2024 season commences.

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