Skip to content

Austin Ekeler: Chargers wanted RB who can handle 300 carries per year

The Washington Post / Getty

New Washington Commanders running back Austin Ekeler addressed his departure from the Chargers, saying he didn't expect to be a good fit with Los Angeles under the team's new offensive system.

"You can kind of see how they've been building the team so far this offseason," Ekeler recently said on "Up & Adams." "Went out and drafted a tackle first round, brought in some bigger backs over from Baltimore. It's like, hey, they want a guy they can hand the ball off to 300 times a year. And, look, I haven't had that capacity to do that. That's not my game. That's not how Austin Ekeler's gonna be the best on the field.

"There was the misalignment there, which no harm, no foul. I'm going to go find somewhere else where Austin can be the best version of myself out there," added Ekeler, who signed a two-year, $8.3-million deal with Washington in March.

Ekeler played his first seven NFL seasons with the Chargers. Once one of the league's most efficient pass-catching running backs, the former undrafted free agent led the NFL in scrimmage touchdowns in 2021 and 2022, scoring 38 TDs in that span. But he's coming off a relatively down year after averaging only 3.5 yards per carry and posting six scores in 14 games in 2023.

The 29-year-old topped 300 touches in a season only once in his career, posting 311 - 204 carries and 107 receptions - in 2022. Ekeler has never recorded more than 206 rushing attempts in a single campaign.

Ekeler registered at least 1,000 scrimmage yards four times with Los Angeles and scored 69 total touchdowns in 103 appearances.

The Chargers kicked off a new era in 2024 by hiring head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Joe Hortiz. Harbaugh brought in several new assistants to his coaching staff, including former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

Roman helped quarterback Lamar Jackson win an MVP award in Baltimore and is known for his run-heavy schemes. Los Angeles also signed former Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, who both played with Roman in the past. The club also bolstered its offensive line in the draft, selecting offensive tackle Joe Alt fifth overall.

The Chargers roster one of football's most skilled quarterbacks in Justin Herbert, and Roman said in February that he expects to give the star passer a "great" running game. Los Angeles has ranked outside the league's top 10 for rushing yards in 16 straight seasons.

In addition to Ekeler, the Commanders' running back depth chart features Brian Robinson and Chris Rodriguez Jr., among others.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox