Chiefs Named ‘Best Fit’ to Land Chargers’ 69-Touchdown RB

Austin Ekeler

Getty Chargers wide receiver Austin Ekeler at SoFi Stadium on January 07, 2024.

Officially on the hunt for a Super Bowl three-peat, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has a lot of work to do this offseason. With over 20 pending free agents, there’s expected turnover at numerous positions.

While an upgrade at wide receiver should be a top priority, adding a versatile running back is also high on the list. ESPN insider Matt Bowen named Kansas City as the “best fit” to land Los Angeles Chargers star Austin Ekeler.

After a down season in 2023, Ekeler remains one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league. During his seven years with the Chiefs’ AFC West rival, he tallied 69 total touchdowns.

“With Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon heading to free agency, the Chiefs could sign Ekeler on a short-term deal to work in rotation with Isiah Pacheco,” Bowen wrote on February 20.

“He would give coach Andy Reid a pass-game threat out of 21 personnel with the ability to flex from the backfield. Ekeler caught 51 passes last season with the Chargers and has 440 receptions in his career.”

According to, Ekeler is predicted to earn a three-year, $22.3 million contract in free agency. However, a fresh start and a run for a Super Bowl ring could entice him to take a pay cut. After the Chargers finished 5-12 this season, Ekeler seemed to have one foot out the door.

“I’m not going to be with these guys anymore, and it’s one of those journeys that I’ll always remember,” Ekeler said, per The Athletic. “But sad that it has to end.”

Austin Ekeler Could Make a Huge Impact Alongside Chiefs RB Isiah Pacheco

Ekeler, who turns 29 in May, asked for a trade last offseason but ultimately agreed to a revised deal that tacked on $1.75 million in incentives. Speaking to Yahoo! Sports’ Matt Harmon on “Ekeler’s Edge” earlier this month, “I haven’t closed anyone off,” the Western Colorado alum said of free agency.

“There’s obviously things that I’m looking at that I can’t negotiate on. I definitely want a fair market price, whatever that turns to be. And that’s going to be determined. That’s TBD, depending on what the appetite for Austin on your team is. Are you in a need of a running back? Is it going to be a tandem, or do you want me to be your main guy? Are you actually in a place where, hey, you like throwing the ball to your running backs, or we run 30 times a game? All of these different fits are going to have to play in a part of, hey, where am I going.”

After leading the league in total touchdowns in both 2021 and 2022, Ekeler understands last season’s stats could hurt his market value. “It sucks, obviously, going into a down year right before free agency,” he said. “This was a down year for our entire club, unfortunately. But the thing is, still motivated, still ready to go and make plays, still ready to make an impact on a team.”

Ekeler could make a major impact alongside Pacheco on the Chiefs. KSHB 41’s Nick Jacobs wrote, “[Pacheco] lacks the lateral speed and dynamic change of direction to be effective on the edge or in the passing game. While he has a great role in the offense, he needs to be a part of a rotation to have full impact.”

Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh Would ‘Love’ to Keep Austin Ekeler

After a dreadful season, the Chargers cleaned house to hire new general manager Joe Horwitz and head coach Jim Harbaugh. While Ekeler’s failed trade attempt last season soured him to many Chargers fans, Harbaugh seems ready to negotiate a new deal.

“If things go well, it’s going to be because of guys like Austin Ekeler and the players,” Harbaugh told the AP’s Rob Maadi on February 10. “I like Austin Ekeler. We’re going to have a huge emphasis on the run game, and we gotta block better up front.

“He’s a tremendous back and we’d love to have him on the team next year. But yeah, [if] things go well, it’s kind of because of all the players. If it goes bad, it’s because I’m a bad manager, I’m a bad coach.”

However, The Athletic’s Daniel Popper pointed out, “The Chargers are projected to be $45.806 million over the cap and $55.391 million over when factoring in the space they will need to sign their draft class and reach the minimum of 51 rostered players.” So, even if they want to keep Ekeler, they may not be able to afford to.