Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler wants to play where he can feel appreciated.
“When it comes down to what’s going on with the whole trade and all that stuff, really, look, we’re trying to find a long-term partner,” Ekeler said Tuesday on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, per NFL.com’s Nick Shook. “That’s what we want. We want someone who wants to sign us for a few years and sees us not just in the immediate future, but a couple years out.
He added, “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.”
Ekeler requested a trade in March, believing he is underpaid. L.A. granted the dual-threat tailback permission to speak with other teams after discussions about an extension broke down.
He is entering the final season of a four-year, $24.5-million contract signed in March 2020 and will earn $6.25 million in base salary, according to Spotrac.
The dynamic halfback said he “kind of got punched in the face” when the Chargers expressed a lack of interest in negotiating a long-term deal. Ekeler still wants to be a Charger despite feeling disrespected. He also said he doesn’t hold any ill will toward the club.
Ekeler has racked up 7,175 scrimmage yards and 63 total touchdowns since joining L.A. as an undrafted free agent in 2017. The Nebraska native led the league in total touchdowns in each of the past two seasons with 20 in 2021 and 18 in 2022.
With less than a month before the NFL draft, Ekeler is one of several veteran running backs on the market despite being under contract. Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, and Kareem Hunt are among the current free-agent options at the position.
Ekeler wouldn’t rule out the possibility of finding a resolution to remain with the Chargers. “Who knows how it’s going to play out?” he said.
Got a story or tip for us? Email Sports Gossip editors at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want More From Sports Gossip?
For all the latest breaking Sports Gossip, be sure to follow SportsGossip.com on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.