AFC Notes: Austin Ekeler, Chargers, Raiders, Jimmy Garoppolo


Chargers HC Brandon Staley tells Steve Wyche on NFL Network that they want RB Austin Ekeler to be back with the team, despite the fact that he’s speaking to other teams about a potential trade. 

“We’ve been in full communication with his team,” Staley said. “I think there’s alignment and a way forward. We want him to be a Charger. I think that that’s something that [General Manager] Tom [Telesco] has said. It’s something I’ve said. We want this guy to be a Charger. We’re also respectful of his position, and we’re going to see where it goes. There’s going to be time now between now and our first game, and we’ll see what happens. But I know the Chargers feel very strongly about Austin Ekeler. He’s just been fantastic for us.”

Jimmy Garoppolo

Raiders HC Josh McDaniels wouldn’t rule out the team drafting a quarterback this year despite signing QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

“I think we would take the best player,” McDaniels said, via “We’ve kind of said that since we came here. I think we think that’s the right way to go. (General manager Dave Ziegler) and I both believe in that: Take the best football player. It always makes your football team better.”

“So we only have one quarterback under contract, plus Chase Garbers, who’s the rookie free agent last year,” McDaniels added. “So there (are) only two of them total. I’d say there’s a chance we’re going to end up adding to the quarterback room in free agency here, continuing to move forward, and then also we’re looking at every guy in the draft, too. So we’re doing our work. We’re doing our due diligence. We’ll see how the board falls.”

McDaniels still has high praise for Garoppolo despite looking to add more to the quarterback group in Las Vegas.

“I think (Garoppolo has) had a lot of important experience,” McDaniels said. “He’s played in a lot of big games, he’s won, he’s a winner, and he’s been a great leader. I got to see that just a little bit in New England when I was with him, but I definitely have seen it from afar when he was in San Francisco. Really proud of what he’s done when he left us and went to Kyle (Shanahan) and John (Lynch) in San Francisco. Really a competitive guy. He’s a guy that brings the team together. Really good leader, exceptional in that regard. Looking forward to his impact on our team.”


Raiders owner Mark Davis discussed how he sees Raiders HC Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler as they enter Year 2 together. Las Vegas still seems far away from contending despite the aggressive moves they made last offseason, but Davis said he always thought it would take time for McDaniels and Ziegler to enact their vision. 

“Everybody that comes in thinks that they can see from the outside what this team is, and they look at the film and they say, ‘OK, we can do it.’ Until you get here and work with the people that’s in it, you don’t know who they are,” Davis said via the Athletic’s Tashan Reed. “So, I personally felt that they were going to take a year to really understand who they were working with and everything like that and then they would make decisions that would work towards the future.

“They did make a huge move when they first got here for Davante (Adams), so that took away their draft last year; the third-round draft pick was the first we had. So, coming into this year now, it’s a different story. They came in without a quarterback, basically, after they made the decision on Derek (Carr). They decided on hiring Jimmy Garoppolo as our quarterback and that’s how they want to go into this season. They have 12 draft picks, and we’ll see what they do. It’s up to Dave Ziegler, really, who is the general manager, now to start putting a roster together and really putting this team together for the future.”

Last year, Davis and the Raiders’ brain trust made it clear with their words and actions they thought they could be competitive right away. That tone shifted quickly and Davis explained that while he was hopeful, he knew in the back of his mind it would take time. 

“The reason it wasn’t a rebuild is because they came in and they had the quarterback, they got Davante, they had everything that they wanted based on seeing from afar what they thought they were coming into,” Davis said. “And no matter how much you tell people what they’re getting, they got to see for themselves. So, at that time, it was in my mind for them, ‘Let’s see what you got.’

“Again, there wasn’t extreme disappointment because I had a feeling that from afar, they didn’t really see exactly what they were getting, but I knew by the end of the season, they’d know. So, did I think it was a rebuild at that time? No. I thought it really was an opportunity to move forward again. Is it a rebuild now? I suppose if you’re getting a new quarterback, obviously, that’s a big positional change and the fact is we still have holes on the defense we need to fill. The offense, again, we lose a quarterback and a tight end; that’s a lot. So, again, there’s pieces there that have to be placed in. So, are we closer than we were last year? I don’t know at this point. But we do have the draft coming up and that’s going to tell a lot.”

Davis reiterated his philosophy is to hire people, step away and let them do their job, then come back and evaluate at a later date. So he’s not going to meddle with the day-to-day decisions McDaniels and Ziegler are making. 

“For me, I hire people. One thing I know is what I don’t know,” Davis said. “I hire people that do know those things, I let them do their job, I give them vision and goals and let the results speak for themselves.”

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  1. Let him go there’s PLENTY of solid RB’s in this draft, like Bijan Robinson who is at least as good… possibly better, without the injury list EK has accumulated. OBVIOUSLY we need the Cap space so there’s that

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