The most shocking development of the LA Chargers offseason thus far has been Austin Ekeler's trade request. Not only did Ekeler request permission to seek out a trade this offseason but the Chargers granted the running back permission when the two sides could not make progress on an extension.
Ekeler has not been shy about his motivations during this entire process, publicly saying that he is so underpaid right now. Ekeler's base salary is $6.25 million and while that goes in line with the current running back market, it is not the same as the likes of Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey.
It has been an interesting situation thus far and is going to be something that dominates the rest of the offseason. At least, that is what it feels like after NFL insider Tom Pelissero provided an update on Wednesday's episode of 'Good Morning Football'.
"Austin Ekeler's goal is and has been to finish his career with the Chargers. He also wants to make sure that he is making market value in the remaining prime-earning years of his career [...] There is interest from other teams. There are no hard offers on the table yet. This could take weeks or months to resolve."
Chargers' Austin Ekeler trade situation may not get any clarity any time soon.
It is not wholly a surprise that other teams would be interested in Ekeler but it is an important checkpoint to take note of. Running backs have never been valued less than they are right now and there was a chance that teams looked at Ekeler, the trade compensation they would have to give up and his age and simply pass for a younger option.
That being said, whichever team trades for Ekeler would be absorbing the problem that the Chargers currently have. Said team would be trading for him with the understanding that Ekeler wants to work out a new contract with the team that pays him practically twice what he is making now.
Maybe there is a team that is willing to take that risk but it is probably an unrealistic expectation for Ekeler. It is a shame for the player, it really is, but the NFL has very obviously set the market for running backs this offseason.
Perhaps a team would be willing to give Ekeler some kind of pay raise. A two-year extension for $18-20 million does not seem impossible, but that is probably the ceiling of what he will get. And with the team's upcoming cap situation, that is not a deal that Ekeler is likely going to get from the Chargers.
We have seen this exact same story play out in the past. Running backs bet on themselves in the last year of the deal and overvalue what they can get on the market in the process. Ekeler definitely deserves to get paid more but this is the nature of the business. At this point, it seems highly unlikely that Ekeler will get what he wants from the Chargers or any other team.