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Austin Ekeler: Chargers wanted someone who will handle 300 carries per year

Austin Ekeler’s discontent with his prior contract made it seem inevitable that he’d be leaving the Chargers in 2024. As he tells it, there was another reason.

Ekeler says the Chargers wanted a workhorse, which is something he isn’t.

“They wanted a guy they can hand the ball off to 300 times a year, and, look, I haven’t had the capacity to do that,” Ekeler said Monday on FanDuel TV’s Up & Adams, via USA Today. “That’s not my game. That’s not how Austin Ekeler is going to be the best on the field. So there was a misalignment there, which, no harm no foul. I’ll go somewhere else where Austin can be the best version of myself out there.”

Of course, the Chargers don’t have a likely 300-carry tailback. They signed former Ravens J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. to presumably share the load. Dobbins, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal. Edwards has a two-year, $6.5 million contract.

Ekeler, in contrast, signed a two-year, $8.43 million deal with the Commanders. He’ll likely work in concert with Brian Robinson, Jr.

Despite being a fantasy-football darling, Ekeler’s touches have only crossed 300 once. In 2018, he had 106 carries and 39 receptions. In 2019, it was 132 and 92. In 2020, 116 and 54. In 2021, 206 and 70.

The 2022 season was the closest he ever came to the “workhorse” category, with 204 rushing attempts and 107 receptions. That sparked his failed effort to get more from the Chargers or a trade to a new team.

Last year, Ekeler had 179 carries and 51 catches.

It will be interesting to compare what Ekeler does in D.C. and what Dobbins and Edwards do for the Chargers, who seem to be very committed to running the ball more than they have — in the hopes of getting even more out of the passing game.