Chargers overachiever No. 1: Austin Ekeler
It is simply impossible to have an article about great contract values for the Chargers without including Austin Ekeler, although this could be the last year in which he is included on this list.
Ekeler is scheduled for restricted free agency in 2020 after signing a cheap three-year contract ($646,000 cap hit per year) as an undrafted free agent. On that relatively small salary, Ekeler has been quite productive.
In Ekeler’s first two years in the NFL, he averaged 5.3 and 5.5 yards per carry, respectively, while also being a pass-catching phenom. In the first four games this season, the Chargers did well running the ball with Ekeler as the lead back.
Since then, Ekeler’s run productivity has regressed, but that is largely due to the fact that his offensive line has turned into one of the worst in the league and the fact that many of his touches have been eaten up by another back.
Despite two weeks of practically no run game production, PFF still grades Ekeler as a near-elite back with an 84.7 grade.
In fact, Ekeler has been effective to the point that it appears Melvin Gordon’s return to the Chargers has hurt the team. When your team has a player on a $646,000 per year contract that is more effective than a guy who just rejected a contract for $10 million per year, you know that the first guy must be significantly overperforming his contract.