The Los Angeles Chargers have made it clear that Austin Ekeler is the running back of the future, but the team can still use the 2020 NFL Draft for a back.
The Los Angeles Chargers had two free-agent running backs to deal with heading into the offseason. Austin Ekeler was set to be restricted free agent, with the Chargers having the ability to place a tender on him, and Melvin Gordon was set to be an unrestricted free agent.
The team made it clear which running back they were trusting the future in, as Ekeler and the Los Angeles Chargers agreed to a four-year, $24.5 million extension. Ekeler is coming off only the third season this century in which a running back eclipsed 900 receiving yards, and once the four years are up, has the shot to go down as one of the best running backs in team history.
By making this extension the Los Angeles Chargers also made it clear that they are probably going to move on from Melvin Gordon. While the team, in theory, has enough salary-cap space to re-sign Gordon, it makes no sense to pay Gordon an upwards of $10 million per year while also paying Ekeler $6.1 million.
That leaves a hole in the depth chart to fill. The Chargers love running two running back sets and using rotations in the backfield, so we very well could see the team bring in another running back as well.
The Chargers do have Justin Jackson, who was phenomenal against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018. Jackson, however, only played in seven games last season and even when he was healthy was not used that frequently. He plays into the equation, but he does not stop the team from adding another running back.
The Chargers are not going to use an early-round pick on a running back and instead can utilize the later rounds, where the hidden gems are often found. Here are three late-round running backs options that would mesh well in LA.