Chargers add $1.75 million in incentives to Ekeler's contract, AP source says
The Los Angeles Chargers have avoided a holdout by running back Austin Ekeler by adding $1.75 million in incentives to his contract for the upcoming season, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the Chargers have not announced the restructuring.
Ekeler is entering the final season of a four-year, $24.5 million extension.
Ekeler, who has scored an NFL-high 38 touchdowns over the past two seasons, could earn as much as $8 million in the 2023 season.
The move also helps the Chargers avoid a repeat of the messy situation they faced four years ago when Melvin Gordon held out until four weeks into the regular season because of a contract dispute.
Ekeler has spent his entire six-year career with the Chargers after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2017. Even in the midst of negotiations, coach Brandon Staley said he expected Ekeler to be at the team's mandatory minicamp when it starts on June 13.
“Austin is one of the top backs in the league over the last two seasons. He’s been a captain for us. We really have the utmost respect for him and the situation," Staley said Monday when the Chargers began their on-field work. “It’s been respectful on both sides.”
Ekeler led the league with 18 touchdowns from scrimmage last season and became the fifth running back in league history with at least 100 receptions. His 107 catches were tied for second most by a running back in a season.
He also rushed for 915 yards, including a pair of 100-yard games.
Staley is trying to emphasize the running game more after hiring Kellen Moore as his offensive coordinator.
The Chargers had the third-worst rushing attack in the league last season and the second-biggest discrepancy between passing and running plays (65% pass to 35% run).
With Moore as the offensive coordinator in Dallas last season, the Cowboys were 53% pass to 47% run, which was tied for the ninth-highest percentage of run plays.
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