Chargers running back Austin Ekeler asked for the team's blessing to seek a trade, his agent told multiple media outlets on Monday.
Ekeler and the Chargers discussed a contract extension but talks didn't progress, ESPN reported, resulting in the 2017 undrafted free agent asking for another avenue to a payday.
Ekeler, 27, caught 107 passes for 722 yards and rushed for 915 yards on 204 carries with a total of 18 touchdowns in 2022. He scored 20 combined touchdowns in 2021 and has four consecutive seasons with 50-plus receptions.
General manager Tom Telesco wasn't keen on the idea of parting with Ekeler. Grouping him with Keenan Allen and other "good players," Telesco said he would prefer to keep the RB when discussing the team's salary cap standing at the NFL Scouting Combine last month.
Ekeler is scheduled to make $6.5 million this season, the final year of a four-year contract he signed in 2020.
Running back is a deep position in the draft, but Ekeler figures to be a coveted option if he's made available.
The Chargers are tight against the 2023 salary cap and the looming prospect of a long-term deal with quarterback Justin Herbert clouds Telesco's options.
Herbert is a lock to have his fifth-year option picked up for 2024, but most high-profile quarterbacks have been locked up before reaching that stage. He will make only $4,234,376 in 2023 before making five times that salary on the option.
--Field Level Media