Austin Ekeler is going to be the starting running back for the Los Angeles Chargers for at least the next four years on a bargain of an extension.
It did not take long for the Los Angeles Chargers to lock up Austin Ekeler with a new contract. On March 6, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Los Angeles locked up Ekeler for four years for $24.5 million. This was a huge bargain for the Chargers organization as they look to further unleash their undrafted dual-threat running back.
In his first season for the Chargers in 2017, Ekeler was largely a backup running back as he garnered 260 rushing yards and 279 receiving yards on 27 catches. In 2018, Ekeler got to start 3 games due to lead running back Melvin Gordon getting hurt and finally was able to show his dual-threat ability as he increased his rushing output to 554 yards for the season as well as 34 catches with 404 yards to show for it.
Then, last year with Melvin Gordon holding out for a new contract, Ekeler was the lead back for the first 8 games of the season. He ended up showing out for the most of the season as he was a key component in the passing game for quarterback Philip Rivers.
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Ekeler caught a career-high 92 passes for 993 yards and marginally increased his rushing output to 557 yards. He probably would have had done better last season if Gordon did not re-join the team.
Now with Ekeler’s contract signing and Gordon’s signing with the Broncos, Ekeler has now been committed to as the lead back by the Chargers organization. His output will definitely increase in terms of his rushing yards and rushes which were 557 and 132 respectively due to being the primary back.
He may not get 92 receptions and 993 yards in the passing game that he got last year, but that will depend on what kind of offense that the Chargers will look to play whether it be a commitment to the running game or a pass-happy offense. Regardless, he will be a top-two option in terms of offensive touches for the Chargers.
Ekeler’s contract is largely a bargain for the Chargers due to the fact that it is only a $6.125 average annual salary for 4 years. He is in his prime at the tender age of 24, and his deal ensures that a huge amount of money of the Chargers salary cap will not be spent on the running back position.
In NFL years, running backs age really fast and tend to decline in their late 20’s so the Chargers get the most bang for buck in their deal in locking him in at his mid 20’s.
The Los Angeles Chargers really liked Ekeler and were smart to lock him up for the near future at an affordable price tag. He can now display his full capability of being a dual-threat lead running back without much worry of another back taking his role.