Chargers guarantee Austin Ekeler's departure with Gus Edwards signing

It only made sense.

Gus Edwards, LA Chargers
Gus Edwards, LA Chargers / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On a day that's been filled with a bunch of big, notable signings around the league, the Los Angeles Chargers opted to address their back field Monday afternoon during the NFL's opening to free agency.

New offensive coordinator Greg Roman certainly had his fingerprints all over this one, too.

The Chargers agreed to terms with former Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards on a 2-year deal. Roman, of course, spent a few years with the Ravens in the years leading up to his hire in Los Angeles.

Roman's tenure with the Ravens began in 2017 as offensive assistant and tight ends coach. Edwards joined Baltimore in 2018 as an undrafted free agent, and has spent his entire career with the Ravens to this point.

With the arrival of Edwards, it all but guarantees the end of Austin Ekeler in a Chargers uniform.

Where will Austin Ekeler sign in free agency?

Ekeler's free agency stint may not last long, as running backs have been getting paid early on during this year's frenzy. Like Edwards, Ekeler had spent his entire career (seven years) with one team, up until now.

Prior to last season, Ekeler requested a trade at one point during the 2023 offseason. Ultimately, the Chargers reworked his deal to include more incentives in the final year of his contract. Still, Ekeler didn't seem impressed with the Chargers, his reworked deal, or the state of the running back landscape across the league.

Now, he's sitting in the middle of a free agency period where running backs are actually getting paid. Already, we've seen Tony Pollard and D'Andre Swift get 3-year deals worth $8 million annually. Saquon Barkley was able to top the $10 million per year mark with Philadelphia, too. Then, you have Josh Jacobs who got $12 million per season on a 4-year deal with Green Bay.

Could Ekeler see his career extended a few more years with the sudden uptick in running back contracts? Luckily for the former Chargers fan favorite, this year's running back draft class isn't as strong as recent years. So, he may have a few things going for him just a year after the outlook appeared grim.

Meanwhile, Edwards comes in as a fellow 28-year-old running back with less mileage on his tires. Will he wind up leading the back field in 2024, or are the Chargers going to make another move to add to the room?