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Best landing spots for Chargers RB Austin Ekeler as he seeks a trade

We discuss the best potential destinations for Chargers RB Austin Ekeler as he seeks a trade.

Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers carries the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the game in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at TIAA Bank Field on January 14, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Chargers may be going with a new starting running back in 2023. After contract negotiations have failed to make progress, the Chargers have granted veteran RB Austin Ekeler permission to seek a trade. He is set to enter the final year of his current contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Ekeler has played six seasons in the NFL, all with Los Angeles. He played in all 17 games last season and carried the ball 204 times for 915 yards with 13 touchdowns. Ekeler added 107 receptions on 127 targets for an additional 722 yards and five touchdowns. He spent the beginning of his career playing behind Melvin Gordon but has shown he has what it takes to be a starting running back for a team. With that in mind, which teams should hit up the Chargers to see what the asking price is for Ekeler?

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are coming off a run to Super Bowl 57. Despite coming up short, they still have pieces in place to make a return trip in 2024. Miles Sanders is a free agent leaving a hole in the backfield alongside quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Eagles have multiple first-round picks, but it depends on what the Los Angeles asking price is for a one-year Ekeler rental. A backfield with Hurts and Ekeler would be a powerhouse and could be a problem for defenses for years to come if they sign him to an extension.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills like what they saw from rookie James Cook in 2022, but he didn’t run away with the future starting running back job. Devin Singletary is a free agent, leaving Buffalo needing another offensive playmaker. If the Bills are able to add Ekeler, he may be the piece that finally puts them over the edge in the AFC.

Carolina Panthers

Carolina has already made headlines this offseason moving up to the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The franchise traded away star running back Christian McCaffrey last season, yet somehow improved down the stretch. It would depend on the asking price, but the Panthers still have some draft capital and cap space to make this deal happen.

Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles continues to struggle to find a running back that can hold onto the starting job in its offense. Their incumbent running backs include Cam Akers, Kyren Williams, Malcolm Brown and Ronnie Rivers. While these guys have shown sparks of potential, adding Ekeler would help turn around this offense. If the Rams are intent on making one more push with Matthew Stafford as their quarterback, Ekeler would give them a much better chance.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons' offense could be one of the better units in the NFL. If they can figure out quarterback, they have Drake London and Kyle Pitts ready to take another step forward. Tyler Allgeier played well when called on his rookie year, but Ekeler would elevate this offense to a whole new level. The NFC South is largely rebuilding, so if Atlanta can make another splash move, it could be what puts them atop the division for the first time since 2016.