Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler is opening up about why he requested permission to seek a trade from the team after six seasons there.
One of the main factors is his paycheck, Ekeler admitted.
“I feel like there’s no timeline on [being traded],” Ekeler said on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast. “I’m so underpaid right now as far as my contract and what I contribute to the team, it’s like, I am relentlessly pursuing this. I want to get something long-term done. I want a team that wants me long term. I’m at the peak of my game, right? As long as I’m healthy, I’m gonna score you another 20 touchdowns. I’m gonna have, you know, another 1,600 all-purpose yards. I’m getting half my value of what I could be getting. I am relentlessly pursuing someone who wants me for the long term.”
Ekeler is currently on a four-year contract with the Chargers and isn’t set to become an unrestricted free agent until next year. He is guaranteed $1.5 million next year with a cap hit of $7.75 million, according to Spotrac.
Despite him feeling like he’s “underpaid,” Ekeler made sure to set the record straight that he has no hard feelings against the Chargers right now.
“I think it’s really important to put it out there that it’s not like, ‘Oh, I hate the Chargers and I need to get out of this organization, and I need to leave,’” Ekeler said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. I would like to stay if it was under the right circumstances.
“Obviously, I have one more year on my contract there, so I’m contractually obligated to play for them for this upcoming year. So, we’re in a situation where it’s like, look, we have no guarantees or anything like that this year, so kind of in a spot where I’ve been outplaying my contract, and we might have an opportunity to go seek out other options that can bring me up.”
In each of the last two seasons, Ekeler rushed for over 900 yards and at least 12 touchdowns. The running back reached various career highs during the 2022 season, including 1,637 total yards from scrimmage and 13 rushing touchdowns.