The Los Angeles Chargers and running back Austin Ekeler have agreed on a four-year contract that will keep him with the team through the 2023 season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal is worth $24.5 million and includes $15 million in guarantees, per Schefter.
Ekeler, 24, was slated to become a restricted free agent later this offseason.
"The Chargers were the first team to believe in me as an undrafted free agent out of Western [State Colorado]," Ekeler told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero following the news of this deal. "To be able to ensure my long term future with this team is a dream come true and my ultimate goal is to bring a championship here to this franchise."
Ekeler first arrived with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2017. After a modest rookie campaign, the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder saw an increased role in the L.A. backfield during his sophomore season in 2018, particularly as a pass catcher.
His role grew exponentially this past season as Melvin Gordon held out for the first four weeks of the regular season while seeking a new contract (which he did not get). In that time, Ekeler proved to be a capable feature back for the Chargers and enjoyed a career year. He finished with 1,550 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns. A large majority of those totals came via the receiving game as he caught 92 of his 108 targets (85.2 catch percentage) for 993 yards and eight scores.
The news of this deal comes on the heels of a report Thursday that saidGordonwhen he becomes an unrestricted free agent in a few weeks. Given that Los Angeles has already locked up Ekeler, it appears Gordon's days as a Charger are numbered, as it wouldn't make much sense for the club to shell out big dough for two running backs.