The NFL draft has come and gone, and Austin Ekeler remains a Los Angeles Charger.
The club granted the running back permission in March to seek out a trade, but Chargers general manager Tom Telesco told The Rich Eisen Show this week that there's been no movement on a new contract and the club never intended to trade the RB.
"Nothing's changed," Telesco said on Tuesday. "His situation is unique. I completely understand that, which is why we kind of allowed them to kind of look and see if there was anything out there. We had no intent, no interest of trading him, but fully knowing his situation to go ahead and do it."
Ekeler is entering the final year of his contract, set to make $6.25 million in base salary -- none of it guaranteed -- which is well below his worth on the field. The back has generated 1,500-plus scrimmage yards each of the past two seasons and added 38 total touchdowns.
The issue isn't Ekeler's importance to the Chargers' offense but rather the league-wide running back situation. Clubs simply aren't paying many backs lucrative third contracts.
Telesco shared a story about his time as a scout with the Indianapolis Colts and how he viewed himself as underpaid at the time, but in hindsight, understands the dynamics of the situation.
"I talked about this, I think it was last week with my former boss Bill Polian," Telesco said. "As a GM, you have to deal with a lot of people's salaries, and it's a challenge and it's not just players. As a GM, you're dealing with players and coaches and scouts and front office executives and support staff. There is definitely a point in everyone's career that you feel like, you're not being compensated appropriately and obviously, that is not just football. That could be any business.
"But when I was talking with Bill, and I know he didn't remember this story when he was the GM of the Colts and I was there. It was probably my second year with the Colts, my fifth year in the NFL, and I go into his office because my contract was up. He slides a piece of paper in front of me, I look at it and the number was a lot lower than I had expected, and my heart just dropped. I just felt even as a young guy, I just felt like I was kinda showing more value than I was being paid. It bothered me initially, but then the way it was then, and I was a young guy, you just put your head down and get back to work.
"But the perspective I have now in this chair that I didn't have then that Bill had is that there's just so many factors that go into someone's salary that it is not always a reflection of how they feel about you as a person. I didn't get that then. I get it now."
So Telesco has been in Ekeler's chair, with a contract offer not up to snuff but little recourse other than to play it out. While not a surprise, that the GM admits to understanding the feelings, yet isn't persuaded to change his stance, highlights the entrenched nature of Ekeler's situation.
With the franchise tag in 2024 as leverage, Telesco isn't yet forced into a situation where he must consider life without Ekeler in L.A.