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Los Angeles Chargers: Why Austin Ekeler is pivotal in landing Tom Brady

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs with the ball during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs with the ball during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Chargers signed Austin Ekeeler to a four-year, $24.5 million extension this offseason, which could help the team land the biggest free agent.

The Los Angeles Chargers had a decision to make with both Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon heading into the offseason. Ekeler was set to be a restricted free agent and is coming off the best season of his career and Melvin Gordon was set to be an unrestricted free agent and is coming off a season in which he held out.

It did not take long for the Chargers to make their decision on Ekeler, as the team signed the dual-threat running back to a four-year, $24.5 million extension, making him the 10th-highest-paid running back in the league.

That almost undoubtedly spells the end of Gordon’s tenure in Los Angeles, as the Chargers are not likely to spend big on two running backs.

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Ekeler’s signing also could help the team solve the other massive decision it has to make this offseason: who is going to play quarterback? With Ekeler now in toe for four seasons, that could lead the Chargers to Tom Brady.

Whether or not to sign Brady is a polarizing issue for Charger fans. Yes, he is the greatest quarterback of all-time, but he is far past his prime and his contract could restrict the team from bringing fan fan-favorites such as Joey Bosa or Keenan Allen in the near future.

However, there is also the idea of how fun it would be to see Brady playing alongside all of the weapons in Los Angeles, with Ekeler being one of them. In fact, Ekeler is the most important weapon, hence his potential impact on Brady’s decision.

Ekeler is the quintessential Tom Brady running back. We have seen various different running backs play a nearly identical style as Ekeler for the Patriots in recent years — Danny Woodhead, James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead.

Ekeler is far better than any of those players. Christian McCaffrey is the only running back in the league that can make the case of being a better pass-catching back in the NFL. Both Ekeler and McCaffrey had over 900 receiving yards in 2020, which had only been done 15 times in the history of the league prior to 2019 and only five times in the previous 30 years.

When looking at his potential options, whether it be the New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders or Tennessee Titans, Brady might look at Austin Ekeler as the difference-maker. Sure, those other teams have dangerous weapons as well, but Ekeler would be the icing on the cake of an offense that also has Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and (hopefully) Hunter Henry.

Ekeler has already said that he expects a ‘new aura’ in LA next season and even openly made the case for Brady to join the Chargers. He is already taking up that role of being the one that swings Brady’s decision to the Los Angeles Chargers.

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Whether you want to see Tom Brady in LA or you don’t, you cannot ignore why Brady would be intrigued to join the Chargers, both for on-field reasons and off-field reasons. That list very well could start with Austin Ekeler.

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