The 3 best value contracts on the Chargers' books in 2022

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Austin Ekeler
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2. Austin Ekeler

Giving a running back a second big contract is the most irresponsible thing that a team can do in the NFL. Time and time again we see these big second contracts come back to bite as the shelf life of an NFL running back is extremely short unless you are an all-time great.

That is why it is so genius what the LA Chargers did with Austin Ekeler's contract. Not only did the Chargers extend him before he ever had a breakout season to ensure that the team got a great price but they also did it early that way the contract ends before things potentially get uglier with his age.

Ekeler signed a four-year, $24.5 million contract prior to the 2020 season and two full seasons later he is undoubtedly a top-five running back in the NFL. His cap hit is just $7 million this season and is $7.25 million next season, although the Chargers can get out of it and save $6 million in cap space.

Ekeler's contract will take him through his age 28 season, which is the perfect time for the contract to end for the Chargers to then re-evaluate what to do moving forward. If the Chargers would have waited to do this it would have cost more and the last year of his contract had a higher chance of being ugly.

According to Over the Cap, Ekeler's average salary is only the 13th highest among running backs. The team is paying a top-five player at his position outside of top-10 money. It might not be great for Ekeler and his agent but it is great for the Chargers.