4 free-agent running backs Chargers can sign to replace Austin Ekeler

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It has been clear for quite some time that Austin Ekeler's career with the LA Chargers was going to end after the 2023 season. Ekeler all but confirmed that to be the case after the season and new GM Joe Hortiz's love for compensatory picks is the icing on the cake.

While Ekeler is coming off the worst year of his career there should still be suitors for him in free agency. Meanwhile, the Chargers are going to have to explore the rest of running back market to find a replacement. In an ideal situation, the Chargers would be able to fix the running game with a cheaper veteran and smart draft selections.

4 free-agent running backs Chargers can sign to replace Austin Ekeler:

Saquon Barkley

Disclaimer: Saquon Barkley is the least likely running back to be signed on this list because of his cost and the fact that he is not as good as he is popular. However, because he has been tied to the Chargers already this offseason he has to be included in the list.

There is a world in which new offensive coordinator Greg Roman wants to make a splash and get an established running back. With the Chargers getting newfound cap space thanks to the NFL, there is a world in which the Chargers could make a Barkley deal work.

That being said, his rushing success rate and yards per carry were among the worst for running backs who had as many carries as he did last season. Some may point to a bad New York Giants offensive line but it isn't like the Chargers have a gold standard offensive line, either.

The Chargers would be sacrificing any compensatory pick they would get for Ekeler by spending more on Barkley and they would be in the exact same boat as before. It would not be worth it, at all, for the Chargers to splurge on Barkley.