Why Chargers likely won't trade Austin Ekeler during 2023 NFL Draft
Austin Ekeler's trade request lingers in the offseason as attention turns to the draft. The expectation should be that Ekeler will remain in Los Angeles. No trade seems to be imminent and the possible contract extension seems to be a snag in the deal.
Of course, things can change. The Chargers could select Texas running back Bijan Robinson in the first, setting off a potential cascade of events. Perhaps Ekeler in some scenario would leave without a contract extension if the draft were to play out a certain way.
But for the most part, there's a few key reasons why Austin Ekeler won't be traded by the Chargers (yet).
Austin Ekeler's contract demands
For most, if not all teams, Ekeler's demand for a contract extension is going to be too much for teams to stomach. Giving up a third or fourth-rounder for #30 and then extending him to a top-five running back contract seems like a less-than-savvy value move.
Think about it from a draft standpoint. Why would a trade for three to four years of Ekeler earning top-five money at the running back position when they can get a rookie contract for dirt cheap?
Yeah, Tyjae Spears and Kendre MIller might not be as good as a Pro Bowl-level back entering the league in their first year. But Ekeler's about to be 30 and expensive. Running backs entering the league will be anywhere from 6-10 years younger and playing on a rookie deal.
If Ekeler was willing to play as a rental then the concept could make more sense. But he doesn't seem keen on doing that outside of Los Angeles, so it's a non-starter.