Roster move No. 3: Re-sign running back Austin Ekeler
A fan favorite amongst both Chargers and plenty of football fans alike, Austin Ekeler must be brought back this upcoming season. Ekeler is a restricted free agent, and the Chargers need to do as much as they can to retain him.
It feels unlikely that Melvin Gordon comes back, as some desperate team could very well extend an offer of $11 million annually. With that said, a 1-2 punch featuring Ekeler and Justin Jackson would still be a very good tandem out of the backfield.
Ekeler proved he could be a feature back this past year in the absence of Gordon. While possibly a bit unconventional when compared to the typical style of running back, he was still nothing short of phenomenal when on the field. Ekeler is the new style of running back this league is beginning to love, and a team would be ecstatic if they could get him in their backfield.
Spotrac has Ekeler’s market value at $12 million annually over four years. While that is certainly much too high (would be fifth in the league amongst running backs) for someone with Ekeler’s sample size, a contract worth around $9 million annually for four to even five years (given Ekeler’s age) would not be the least bit surprising.
The Chargers may be able to get a second or third-round pick should Ekeler choose to sign with another team. However, that is most certainly not enough for a running back who is only 24 years old and quite possibly has not even touched his ceiling yet.
They must bring back Ekeler; with upgrades on the line and Steichen getting a full offseason to prepare as the coordinator, there can be a lot to be excited about in the backfield next season.