27-year-old Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is not only one of the league’s best running backs, but he’s one of the NFL’s best offensive weapons, in general.
Last season, Ekeler carried the ball 204 times for 915 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also catching another 107 passes (a career-high) for 722 yards and five touchdowns.
Given his ability to both move the chains and score touchdowns, you’d think that Ekeler would be one of the most highly-valued offensive assets in the league. Unfortunately for Austin, though — and all of his other colleagues at the position — he’s a running back. And the NFL doesn’t pay running backs.
Despite being granted permission by the Chargers to seek a trade earlier in the offseason, Ekeler remains a member of the team and is clearly frustrated by the state of his compensation.
During a recent appearance on Chris Long’s Greenlight podcast, Ekeler bemoaned that he’s “so underpaid” and that he’s having difficulty finding a team willing to give him a long-term contract, which, unfortunately, ignores the nature of the reality of the position he plays.
“I’m so underpaid right now as far as my contract and what I contribute to the team, I am relentlessly pursuing this,” Ekeler said.
“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, I’m going to score you another 20 touchdowns. As long as I’m healthy I’m going to score 20 touchdowns, I’m going to have 1,600 all-purpose yards. I’m getting half my value of what I can be getting. So I am relentlessly pursuing someone who wants me.”
The worst part is that Ekeler is ultimately right: relative to his contributions to his team, he is rather underpaid. That said, it’s hard to imagine common NFL fans shedding any tears for Austin and his $6.25 million salary.
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