Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler will remain in Los Angeles this season after reportedly agreeing to a revised contract that adds $1.75 million in incentives, just months after requesting a trade.
The deal, reported Tuesday by the NFL Network and ESPN, increases Ekeler’s 2023 salary from the $6.25 million he was set to earn in the final year of his contract.
The restructuring follows Ekeler’s public criticism of his previous contract and his desire to negotiate a long-term deal with the Chargers.
CHARGERS’ AUSTIN EKELER FELT ‘DISRESPECTED’ AFTER FAILED CONTRACT TALKS: ‘KINDA GOT PUNCHED IN THE FACE'
In March, it was widely reported that Ekeler requested permission to seek a trade, which the Chargers granted after both sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. He spoke out on the podcast “Green Light with Chris Long,” at the time and said he was “underpaid” and “relentlessly pursuing someone who wants me.”
He later said during a radio interview that he felt “disrespected” by the organization after failed negotiations.
“I kind of got punched in the face when the Chargers basically said, ‘Hey, we don’t want to talk about extensions anymore,’” he told SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio in April.
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“This is the organization that I’ve continued to rise and hit new heights in and continue to add more value… so, that’s how it felt, right? It felt like, ‘Wow, this is the first time in my career with them that I felt disrespected by my own organization.’”
Ekeler led the league last season with 18 scrimmage touchdowns and has scored an NFL-high 38 touchdowns over the last two seasons. He expressed his desire to remain with the Chargers but added that he was prepped to hit the free agency market at the end of this upcoming season.
“Look, I guess the worst-case scenario right now out of all of it – I'll come back, and I'll have to play for the Chargers for a year and bet on myself and then be a free agent next year.”
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Head coach Brandon Staley spoke to reporters Monday and said he expects Ekeler to show up for mandatory minicamp next month.
“He’s one of the top backs in the league over the last two seasons. He’s been a captain for us. We really have the utmost respect for him and the situation has been respectful on both sides and looking forward to this spring, and we’ll give you guys updates if there are any.”
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Ekeler is entering the final year of his four-year, $24.5 million contract.