LA Chargers News

Los Angeles Chargers: Three steals and two bad deals

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 22: Uchenna Nwosu #42 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates his stop of Lamar Jackson #8 on third down with Isaac Rochell #98 during the first quarter at StubHub Center on December 22, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CARSON, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 22: Uchenna Nwosu #42 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates his stop of Lamar Jackson #8 on third down with Isaac Rochell #98 during the first quarter at StubHub Center on December 22, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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MIAMI, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 29: Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates with teammates after rushing for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on September 29, 2019, in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 29: Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates with teammates after rushing for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on September 29, 2019, in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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.

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