Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was reportedly in search of a new contract or a new team, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter Monday. Tuesday, it appears Ekeler will be begin to search a new team.
The Chargers have reportedly granted the 27-year-old permission to seek a trade after failure to make progress for a new contract, according Ekeler's agent, Cameron Weiss, via Schefter.
Weiss previously told Schefter that Ekeler requested permission to speak to other teams after contract extension negotiations with the Chargers stalled.
Ekeler signed a four-year, $24.5 million deal in 2020 and will enter the final year of that contract with only a $7.75 million salary cap hit. He has scored 38 combined touchdowns the past two seasons, which leads the NFL among skill position players. He has finished the past two seasons with at least 900 rushing yards and at least 12 rushing touchdowns.
This is a major development for the future of the Chargers and for the running back position.
Ekeler is arguably the Chargers' most consistent player behind quarterback Justin Herbert, who will be eligible for a contract extension next offseason. Los Angeles restructured veteran receiver Keenan Allen's contract this offseason but also has a lot of money tied up in wideout Mike Williams and $19.07 million in cap space, per Over the Cap.
Although Ekeler is one of the best scoring running backs in the NFL, his average annual salary ranks 15th in the league. He'll be 28 by the time the 2023 season starts. He has missed only one game the past two seasons. Similarly aged running backs like Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott all make more than Ekeler.
The Chargers' rusher will also likely watch as younger running backs like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard seek long-term extensions this offseason. All three are currently on their respective teams' franchise tags.