Jim Harbaugh Reportedly Eyeing Free Agent Running Back to Transform Chargers Offense

Feb 1, 2024; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh speaks at an introductory
Feb 1, 2024; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh speaks at an introductory / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody is sure what Jim Harbaugh's Los Angeles Chargers will look like quite yet, but there is one thing we can be sure about: they're going to look a lot different than what we saw in 2023.

The Chargers have a lot of key players hitting free agency, and with Harbaugh being joined by a new GM in Joe Hortiz, don't expect them to worry about focusing on continuity. These two are going to put their own stamp on the roster.

And according to a recent rumor, that stamp could start with a surprising free agent priority.

Chargers Rumors: Saquon Barkley a Free Agent Target?

According to Ryan Leaf on Good Morning Football, Saquon Barkley is at the top of Jim Harbaugh's free agent wish list for the Chargers.

First of all, that would confirm what we already expect: Austin Ekeler is out. This isn't Madden, you're not rostering two high-priced running backs at once in the modern NFL.

Second, this would be a huge domino in reshaping the entire offense, and really highlights just how much Harbaugh wants to shake things up. Both Ekeler and Barkley are capable every-down players, but that doesn't mean they're especially similar.

Ekeler has the receiving skills to essentially function as a slot receiver at times. Barkley is a capable receiver, but he's a lot more like a typical "great running back who is good however you get the ball into his hands" backfield receiving threat.

And while Ekeler could absolutely run the ball, Barkley is a lot more of the prototypical runner. He's fast and agile enough to get outside the tackles, but he can also go between the tackles 20+ times in a game and come out wearing less of the punishment than opposing defenders are.

Health is an obvious question mark for Saquon, who has missed at least three games in four of six NFL seasons, but he has played 13, 16 and 14 over the last three years, staying relatively healthy in a Giants' offense that has tasked him with touching the ball 843 times in that stretch.

Now for the big caveat. Ryan Leaf may be a former Charger, but he's not exactly the most reliable source for Chargers rumors. The odds he has a legitimate in with Harbaugh or Hortiz are pretty low. I'm not saying he's making this up — someone may have told him the info — but I'm questioning how reliable that "someone" is.

For the time being, we'll just have to wait and see.

More Los Angeles Chargers news and rumors: