The Los Angeles Chargers have granted running back Austin Ekeler permission to seek a trade after the two sides failed to make progress on a new contract, his agent, Cameron Weiss, told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Ekeler, 27, is entering the final season of a four-year, $24.5 million contract and is scheduled to earn $6.25 million. He requested permission Monday to speak with other teams.
Last season, Ekeler played a pivotal role in the Chargers earning their first playoff berth in four seasons before they were eliminated in a 31-30 wild-card playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ekeler led the NFL with 18 touchdowns while rushing for 915 yards on 204 carries and catching 107 passes for 722 yards. An often-used target out of the backfield, Ekeler also led the NFL with 822 yards after the catch.
The Chargers entered the offseason $20.5 million over the 2023 salary cap but cleared $40.37 million in space to become cap compliant by restructuring the contracts of receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and edge rusher Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack.
They are on the clock to sign Justin Herbert to a record-breaking extension as the quarterback prepares for the fourth season of a five-year rookie deal.
In the meantime, the Chargers have worked to shore up his protection long-term, bringing back right tackle Trey Pipkins on a three-year deal, a source told ESPN. Pipkins, 26, started all 14 games he played last season.
The team is releasing veteran left guard Matt Feiler, a source told ESPN, confirming an NFL Network report, saving $6.5 million in cap space but taking on $2 million in dead money. The Chargers are expected to move second-year lineman Jamaree Salyer into the left guard position. A sixth-round pick in 2022, Salyer took over at left tackle as a rookie last season after Rashawn Slater was placed on injured reserve following Week 3.
The Chargers signed Ekeler as an undrafted free agent in 2017 from Western State Colorado. He earned a starting role in 2019, signed his latest deal as a restricted free agent after the 2020 season and has since anchored a running back corps that has struggled to produce behind him.
In six seasons, Ekeler has rushed for 3,727 yards and 34 touchdowns and has caught 389 passes for 3,448 yards.
Ekeler and Hall of Famer Lenny Moore are the only players in NFL history to record 25 rushing touchdowns and 25 receiving touchdowns in their first six seasons of the NFL.
Since entering the NFL in 2017, Ekeler ranks 11th among active players with 7,175 total scrimmage yards.
Running backs Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller and Larry Rountree III remain on the roster.