Ezekiel Elliott's Patriots contract explains why the Chargers were never a fit

Many Chargers fans thought Ezekiel Elliott would join the team at some point in 2023.

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Chargers
Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Chargers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

All the stars were aligning for Ezekiel Elliott to join the LA Chargers. The former All-Pro running back was released by the Dallas Cowboys after his offensive coordinator in Dallas, Kellen Moore, was hired by the Bolts.

Los Angeles had running back issues as well. Austin Ekeler's future was unclear after a surprise trade request and the depth behind Ekeler was questionable at best. On paper, Zeke joining the Chargers made all the sense in the world.

But by the time Elliott finally put pen to paper on a contract it was not with the Chargers, it was with the New England Patriots. Elliott signed a one-year contract with the Patriots on Monday just weeks before the start of the 2023 season.

Why the Patriots? New England has a solid young back in Rhamodre Stevenson that will take snaps away from Zeke. Plus, the Patriots have a slimmer chance of winning the Super Bowl than the Chargers, so this was not a ring-chasing move. At the end of the day, it all came down to the money.

The Chargers were never going to pay Ezekiel Elliott what the Patriots are going to pay him.

To be clear, Elliott's one-year deal is incentive-based and if he is going to make $6 million this season it is going to come off the heels of great production. The exact nature of the incentives are not yet announced but they have to be obtainable enough for Elliott to be willing to bet on himself.

Money talks in this league and nobody can blame Elliott for taking as much money as he possibly can, especially with the running back market being the way that it is. The Chargers, who are already paying Ekeler a premium price with new incentives baked in, have better uses of that money than to give incentives to an over-the-hill former All-Pro.

Would it have been nice to bring Elliott to LA to give the Chargers a great 1-2 punch next to Ekeler? Absolutely. Did it make sense for the team to do it at that price point? Not at all. For now, it looks like LA is just going to trust in Joshua Kelley or Isaiah Spiller (heck, maybe even Elijah Dotson) to provide quality depth at the position.