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Austin Ekeler concerned about running back contracts, says RBs bring ‘more value’ to teams than backup WRs

Los Angeles Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler has been vocal about his displeasure over his contract with the team. The dispute seemed to reach its peak in March, when Ekler was granted permission by the Chargers to seek a trade.

However, the two sides came to a temporary resolution earlier this offseason, when the Chargers reportedly added $1.75 million in incentives to his deal for 2023. 

Nevertheless, Ekler apparently is not happy about how his fellow running backs are being valued across the NFL. During a recent appearance on the “Rich Eisen Show,” Ekeler suggested that the production some running backs bring to their respective teams is being taken for granted.


He concedes there are two sides to the issue to consider, but that the value question is a major sticking point in contract negotiations.

“We’re in a business and I think both sides are trying to play the game the best they can And that’s what’s being played out right in front of our eyes,” Ekeler said. “You know we have our ownership who is in charge of our salary caps, they control that portion of it… we control the play and its up for us as players to add as much value as we can.”


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 frustration over how his position was being treated, especially as it relates to other positions.

Austin Ekeler vs the Coolts

“If I’m looking at some of the backup receivers out here that are still making more than me, that’s going to p–s me off, right? I’m a little bit like, ‘OK, wait a minute, so you’re telling me these people are the No. 3 receivers and they’re going to make more than me? And I’m the starter? I get more carries, I touch the ball more, I have more of an impact,” he said.

“It causes us to question, right? We’re going to fight for that. I’m bringing 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 principles. It’s about the principle of adding value to a team.”

Austin Ekeler vs the Jaguars

Ekeler also mentioned the situations of two-time New York Giants Pro Bowler Saquon Barkley and Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, and said they were seeking proper compensation after their respective strong seasons in 2022.

From Ekeler’s point of view, it makes sense that star running backs are pushing back during contract negotiations.

“When we don’t get that, absolutely, we’re going to fight back,” Ekeler told Eisen. 

“We have no 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 then I also get it from the other side. They’re like, ‘Hey, none of these other running backs are getting paid. Let’s just see what happens. Let’s franchise tag these guys, and then let’s wait a year. Let’s see what happens.’ … Both sides are playing this game, and how it turns out, time will tell.”

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