After entering the 2019 season with double-digit win total expectations, the Los Angeles Chargers never held a record of .500 or better after Week 4, ultimately ending the year in the AFC West basement at 5-11. It took until the quarter-season mark for the star running back Melvin Gordon to report to the team following an offseason holdout. When the 2015 first-round pick did return to the field, the results were mediocre as backup RB Austin Ekeler carved out a much larger share of the offensive touches in Gordon’s four-game absence and beyond.
The 2017 undrafted free agent saw his usage and production increase substantially last season, posting career totals in rushing attempts (132), rushing yards (557), receptions (92), receiving yards (993) and receiving touchdowns (8) across 16 games (8 starts). In addition to free agent QB Philip Rivers parting ways with the organization this offseason, both of the Chargers top running backs could find themselves in different uniforms in 2020.
.@AustinEkeler makes people miss, he can break tackles, and he has elusive speed. A restricted FA, but a special player that a lot of teams should be interested in come free agency. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/bAdASrS2ds
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) February 17, 2020
While the 26-year-old Gordon will be free to test the open market, Ekeler is a restricted free agent under a bit more team control. This week on NFL.com, Around the NFL writer Marc Sessler previewed one free agent fit for every AFC team, including floating the idea of Ekeler playing for the division rival Kansas City Chiefs in 2020.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Austin Ekeler, running back
The Super Bowl-winning Chiefs are laced with weaponry, but the backfield occasionally morphed into a clown car in 2019. Damien Williams enjoyed his moments, but no Chiefs back reached 500 yards on the ground or 250 through the air. The committee approach was far from fatal, but I’d love to see Patrick Mahomes author on-field madness with a player like Ekeler at his disposal. The Chargers wonder finished second among all backs in receiving yards (993) last season and showed flashes of dominance on the ground before splitting time with a back-from-holdout Melvin Gordon. Just 24 years old, …read more