Chargers RB Austin Ekeler shared some more info about his trade request from his perspective in an appearance on the Green Light With Chris Long podcast.
Ekeler said his relationship with the team is fine, he’s just trying to get a better contract after being underpaid for years.
“I think it’s really important to put it out there that it’s not like, ‘Oh, I hate the Chargers and I need to get out of this organization, and I need to leave,'” he said via NFL Media. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. I would like to stay if it was under the right circumstances. Obviously, I have one more year on my contract there, so I’m contractually obligated to play for them for this upcoming year. So, we’re in a situation where it’s like, look, we have no guarantees or anything like that this year, so kind of in a spot where I’ve been outplaying my contract, and we might have an opportunity to go seek out other options that can bring me up.”
While the draft would be a natural deadline of sorts for a deal to happen in order to get the Chargers picks and an opportunity to replace Ekeler, the veteran said he doesn’t see a timeline for when this move has to happen.
“I feel like there’s no timeline on it,” he said. “I’m so underpaid right now as far as my contract and what I contribute to the team, it’s like, I am relentlessly pursuing this. I want to get something long-term done. I want a team that wants me long-term. I’m at the peak of my game, right? As long as I’m healthy, I’m gonna score you another 20 touchdowns. I’m gonna have, you know, another 1,600 all-purpose yards. I’m getting half my value of what I could be getting. I am relentlessly pursuing someone who wants me for the long term.”
Ekeler added in a “worst-case scenario,” he’d come back to Los Angeles, play out his contract year and hope to cash in as a free agent the following offseason.
“For me, it’s like, if there’s an opportunity to get more value, than why would you not jump on that? Why would you not at least try out the options?” he said. “And worst-case scenario — it’s not even a worst-case, really — but, OK, go play on the last year of your deal in L.A., then become a free agent.”
Ekeler is entering the final year of his contract and stands to make a base salary of $6,250,000 for the 2023 season, which is far below the going rate for his production.
Ekeler, 27, wound up going undrafted out of Western State back in 2017. He played out the final year of his three-year contract and was in line to be a restricted free agent when he agreed to a four-year, $24.5 million deal that includes $15 million guaranteed.
Ekeler is in line to be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
In 2022, Ekeler appeared in all 17 games for the Chargers and rushed for 915 yards on 204 carries (4.5 YPC) to go along with 107 receptions for 722 yards and 18 total touchdowns.
We’ll have more on Ekeler as the news is available.
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