At the start of the offseason there were some questions around whether or not Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler would play for the Chargers as he was frustrated with his contract. The Chargers and Ekeler agreed a revised contract adding $1.75 million in incentives. This is the last year of his contract, so it could be his last in Los Angeles.
Chargers starting running back: Austin Ekeler
Ekeler had the best season of his career in 2022. He rushed for 915 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding 107 receptions for 722 yards and five receiving touchdowns. The rushing yards, touchdowns, receptions, and receiving yards were all career-high’s for him. Heading into his final year of his contract, he’ll look to set a few new career highs again.
The Chargers rely on Ekeler much more than anybody else on the team. He doesn’t get many breaks and appears to always want to be on the field. His ability to make a difference in the run game and pass game gives him an opportunity to be on the field more than most running backs in the NFL. In 2023, I would expect Ekeler to be on the field even more with this being his final year under contract.
Who is Ekeler’s backup on the Chargers RB depth chart?
It will be a training camp battle for RB2 with the Chargers. Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller will be the two guys competing for the spot. Both are former 4th round picks with Kelley being drafted in 2020 and Spiller being drafted in 2022. Both of these guys could have a tryout this season for the starting running back in 2024 depending on what happens with Ekeler.
Last season, Kelley had 69 carries for 287 yards and two touchdowns. We see RB2s putting up better than that for most teams, but Kelley missed four games and the Chargers don’t ask for a ton behind Ekeler. Spiller rushed for 41 yards in 2022 as he played in just six games. He was a healthy scratch for a number of games in 2022 and the hope should be that they can develop him into a starting back in a few years.