Chargers’ No. 1 RB Austin Ekeler Airs Frustrations With Team’s Disregard For New Contract

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Not signing a running back to an expensive, long-term deal continues to be common-sense wisdom in the NFL. But on the other side of that coin is a disgruntled player hoping to score a new deal.

There’s drama in the backfield for the Los Angeles Chargers as the top running back, Austin Ekeler, continues to push for a trade. Ekeler thinks he’s criminally underpaid, causing a deep split between the two parties.

Austin Ekeler Feels Slighted By Own Team

Playing on the final year of his four-year, $24.5 million deal, Ekeler hoped that negotiations with the Chargers would produce a positive result for both sides. After all, scoring 38 total touchdowns for the past two seasons wasn’t a lousy bidding chip for Ekeler.

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

But according to Ekeler, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco quickly cut off negotiation talks, prompting the 27-year-old to announce a trade request out of LA.

Austin Ekeler appeared on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio to discuss his rift with the Chargers.

“Yes, I do have one more year on my contract, absolutely, but for them to want to allow me to go and be a free agent next year after playing, maybe we’ll get something done throughout the year,” he said.

“Who knows how it’s going to play out? But that’s how I’m feeling right now. We don’t have insight into how they’re thinking because they’re just like, ‘Nah, we don’t want to talk anymore.'”

The Chargers’ decision not to pay Ekeler is a wise decision for a team gearing up to pay their superstar QB via a mega deal next offseason. However, Ekeler’s production and popularity with the fanbase — recognized as an avid streamer — still makes this a particularly difficult decision for the Bolts.

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler Still A Valuable Contributor

Ekeler’s ascending production these past seasons made the team’s lack of contract talks more jarring to the player.

“I kind of got punched in the face when the Chargers basically said, ‘Hey, we don’t want to talk about extensions anymore,'” shared Ekeler.

He added, “This is the organization that I’ve continued to rise and hit new heights in and continue to add more value … so, that’s how it felt, right? It felt like, ‘Wow, this is the first time in my career with them that I felt disrespected by my own organization.'”

Ekeler has tallied over 900 yards of total offense in his last five seasons. Last season, Ekeler combined for 1,637 yards of offense and 18 touchdowns — a well-timed career year for the veteran runner.

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“It sucks, I want to be a Charger,” he said. “I want to be there, and it sucks because it’s like, ‘OK, let’s get something done.'”

Ekeler isn’t hiding how upset he’ll be if he stays on LA’s roster next season and has to play for a new deal.

“Look, I guess the worst-case scenario right now out of all of it – I’ll come back, and I’ll have to play for the Chargers for a year and bet on myself and then be a free agent next year.”

Several 2022 Pro Bowl running backs — Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard — received the franchise tag this offseason.

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Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan that has watched every movie.

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