Los Angeles Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler has expressed his dissatisfaction with his contract with the team. The dispute seemed to peak in March, when the Chargers gave Ekler permission to pursue a trade.
However, the two parties reached a temporary resolution earlier this offseason, when the Chargers reportedly added $1.75 million in incentives to his contract for 2023.
However, Ekler is apparently not happy with the way his fellow running backs are valued in the NFL. During a recent appearance on the «Rich Eisen Show,» Ekeler suggested that the production that some running backs bring to their respective teams is taken for granted.
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He admits that there are two sides of the issue to consider, but that the issue of value is a major sticking point in contract negotiations.
«We’re in business and I think both sides are trying to play the game to the best of their ability and that’s what’s playing out in front of our eyes,» Ekeler said. «You know we have our ownership that is in charge of our salary caps, they control that part… we control the game and it’s up to us as players to add as much value as we can.»
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Despite going undrafted in 2017 out of western Colorado, Ekeler has had a productive NFL career and has helped redefine the running back position.
Ekeler expressed his frustration with how his position was being treated, especially as it relates to other positions.
«If I’m seeing some of the backup receivers here still making more than me, that’s going to bother me, right? I’m kind of like, ‘OK, wait a minute, so you’re telling me these people are No. 3 receivers and they’re going to win more than me? And I’m the starter? I get more carries, I touch the ball more, I have more impact.» he said.
«It makes us question, right? We’re going to fight for it. I bring more value to the team than this person. I think I should be compensated for that… It seems like it’s about money, but it’s about principle. It’s about principle to add value to a team».
Ekeler also brought up the situations of New York Giants two-time Pro Bowler Saquon Barkley and Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, saying they were seeking appropriate compensation after their respective strong seasons in 2022.
From Ekeler’s standpoint, it makes sense that the star running backs are backing down during contract negotiations.
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«When we don’t get that, absolutely, we’re going to fight back,» Ekeler told Eisen.
«We don’t have a choice… It seems like it’s about money, but it’s about principle, right? It’s about the principle of adding value to a team. But I also get it from the other side. They’re like, ‘Hey, none of these other running backs are getting paid. Let’s see what happens. Let’s franchise these guys, and then wait a year. Let’s see what happens.» … Both sides are playing this game, and how it turns out, time will tell.»