Austin Ekeler's fall from grace continues as he leaves Chargers on cheap deal

Los Angeles Chargers v Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Chargers v Washington Football Team / Rob Carr/GettyImages

It was only a matter of time. The writing was on the wall for the 2023 season to be Austin Ekeler's last with the LA Chargers after talks around an extension fell through last spring and Ekeler then sought after a trade. While there were no trade suitors for Ekeler, the entire fanbase knew that he was going to leave in free agency in 2024.

It did not take long for Ekeler to find his new home as the undrafted running back is signing a two-year deal with the Washington Commanders. News of Ekeler's deal emerged shortly after it was reported that the Chargers were signing Gus Edwards, who is taking the charge to rebuild what is a broken running backs room in LA.

Ekeler's new team, and how much he is going to make, is a bit surprising and is indicative of his fall from grace from just 2-3 years ago. The Commanders are not a contending team and Ekeler's deal is worth up to $11.43 million.

Austin Ekeler's fall from grace continues as he leaves Chargers on a cheap deal

The running back market actually ended up being more prominent than originally expected, largely because the salary cap was much higher than it was expected to be. Saquon Barkley got a three-year $37.5 million deal, Josh Jacobs got a four-year, $48 million deal, Tony Pollard got a three-year, $24 million deal and De'Andre Swift got a three-year, $24.5 million deal.

Ekeler got less than half of any of those running backs despite being perceived as someone who was in the same ballpark as all of those guys. The fact that Pollard of all running backs got twice as much as Ekeler is telling, and is just another example of his fall from grace.

Whether it be the Chargers not wanting to extend him, no team wanting to trade for him, or his poor play last season, Ekeler simply is not the same back that he was 2-3 years ago. Time moves quickly in the NFL and Father Time has definitely caught up to Ekeler quicker than others.

Worst of all is the fact that Ekeler's deal is only worth up to $11.4 million because of incentives. If he does not hit his incentives this season, his two-year deal will be worth less than $10 million. Before last season, Ekeler stated that he was making half of what his value was on a $6.25 million salary. That means, according to Ekeler's math, he thought he was worth a $12.50 million salary.

Reality hits you hard, as Ekeler wasn't even able to get that kind of money on a two-year deal.

While it got ugly towards the end, Chargers fans should stll remember Ekeler fondly and should wish him luck in Washington.