Los Angeles Chargers Expected To Pursue Pro Bowl Running Back In Free Agency

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Back in 2017, the Los Angeles Chargers signed undrafted rookie free agent Austin Ekeler to a contract, and he quickly earned playing time in a backfield shared by Melvin Gordon. Over the next few seasons, Ekeler developed into one of the best all-purpose backs in the NFL, topping 1,000 yards from scrimmage in four of the past five seasons.

But now Ekeler is set for free agency, and there’s a sense that the Chargers won’t be bringing the soon-to-be 29-year-old for an eighth season. Part of their possible disinterest could be due to being in a tough salary cap situation with several high-priced stars likely looking at pay cuts. Another reason could simply be the change in the new regime, with first-year general manager Joe Hortiz now making decisions in the Chargers’ front office.

Either way, it appears the Chargers will have a different running back when the 2024 season starts, and now there’s a belief they might even land a Pro Bowl replacement.

Los Angeles Chargers Named As Serious Suitors For Saquon Barkley

saquon barkley
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Austin Ekeler is joining a deep running back free agency class, including Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry. Thanks to their cap troubles, the Los Angeles Chargers likely won’t be the team that pays top dollar to the biggest name available, but that doesn’t mean they won’t pursue top talent.

In fact, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the Chargers are “believed to be serious suitors” for Saquon Barkley. However, they’re far from the only team linked to the two-time Pro Bowl running back. Raanan also lists the Ravens, Bears, Eagles, and Cowboys as other teams in the chase for Barkley. The Texans have also been linked to him too.

Last year when Barkley was set to enter free agency, the Giants stepped in by placing the franchise tag on the former No. 2 pick. Barkley wasn’t pleased with not being able to land a long-term extension, so now will be his chance to cash in, yet the market will ultimately decide the cost for his services. Depending on the price, the Chargers just might end up with a star in the backfield to pair with Justin Herbert.

Related: Los Angeles Chargers’ Stars Drawing Heavy Trade Interest, But Teams Are Waiting On One Key Aspect