Austin Ekeler NFL trade odds: Chargers star running back requests deal, with Lions, Dolphins, Broncos top candidates
It's going to be a wild week in the NFL with the new league year opening Wednesday, which is when free-agent signings and trades can be made official. There's a new major impact player on the trade market Monday: Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, who has requested a deal because he's unhappy with contract talks. SportsLine offers odds on where he is playing Week 1 this year.
The 27-year-old Ekeler has to be on any list of best undrafted free agents in the NFL this century. He's led the league in touchdowns from scrimmage in each of the last two seasons. This past season, he rushed for 915 yards and 13 scores and caught a career-high 107 passes for 722 yards and five more scores. Ekeler has scored 38 total touchdowns over the last two seasons. No other player has more than 26 over the span.
Along with Marshall Faulk, Ekeler is one of two players in NFL history to have 10 or more rushing touchdowns and five or more receiving touchdowns in consecutive seasons. He joined Priest Holmes as one of two players in NFL history to be undrafted with 1,500 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns in consecutive seasons.
Understandably, Ekeler wants a raise as he enters the final season of a four-year, $24.5 million contract and is scheduled to earn $6.25 million in 2023. Apparently he and the Chargers, who signed Ekeler out of Western Colorado in 2017, aren't close on any extension, so the team has given Ekeler's camp permission to speak with other teams about a potential trade. Presumably, any team that acquires Ekeler would have to hand him a new contract.
The Chargers don't have to trade Ekeler, and why would they? They have all the leverage, and while Ekeler is a terrific player, the running back market is flush with free-agent talent even after the Giants franchise-tagged Saquon Barkley. For example, the Bengals are widely expected to release Pro Bowler Joe Mixon. The Bolts believe they are AFC contenders and don't have a clear-cut Ekeler replacement in Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller.
If Ekeler is traded, the Detroit Lions make a lot of sense as a destination. The Chargers would get Ekeler out of the AFC, and the Lions may have to replace Jamaal Williams, who appears set to leave in free agency – although Ekeler is a lot like current Detroit running back D'Andre Swift.
Ekeler could fit into an Alvin Kamara-type role with the Broncos and their new head coach in Sean Payton, who had Kamara in New Orleans. Ekeler is from Colorado, so he might push for Denver.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Which team will Ekeler be playing for Week 1?
- Chargers -300
- Lions +400
- Dolphins +500
- Broncos +500
- Eagles +900
- Bengals +1000
- Texans +1200
So which 2023 Fantasy baseball busts, breakouts, and sleepers should you target or fade in your drafts? Visit SportsLine's Fantasy baseball cheat sheets now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Joey Votto's disappointing season, and find out.
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