5 Chargers running back options to replace Austin Ekeler in 2023
3. Samaje Perine
If the LA Chargers want to replace Austin Ekeler with a cheaper pass-catching option then the best route to take would be Cincinnati's Samaje Perine. Perine showed a lot of potential as a pass-catching back for the Bengals last season and could bring that wrinkle to LA.
Ekeler is one of the best pass-catching backs in the league and he has earned that recognition but there is a good chance that Perine could come close to Ekeler's pass-catching production in this offense.
Perine hauled in 38 catches for 287 yards with four receiving touchdowns while only playing 41% of the Bengals' offensive snaps. He averaged 0.9 more yards per reception than Ekeler with a yards per target that was only 0.1 yards worse. Perine caught a touchdown in 10.5% of his receptions. Ekeler caught a touchdown in 4.7% of his touches.
If Perine gets the same workload in the passing game as Ekeler then there is no doubt that he could put up similar numbers and could do so for cheaper. PFF projects him to get a two-year, $5 million contract.
Los Angeles would still need to bring in someone to carry the ball between the tackles (unless they plan on Joshua Kelley or Isaiah Spiller having a bigger role). But as a pass-catching replacement, Perine would be solid.