Aug 25, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; General view of the helmet belonging to Los Angeles Chargers place kicker Dustin Hopkins (not pictured) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

As the Jim Harbaugh era begins in Los Angeles, the Chargers’ offense figures to look significantly different in 2024.

And one of the biggest changes could come in Los Angeles’ backfield, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting that the Chargers are not expected to place their franchise tag on running back Austin Ekeler ahead of the start of the NFL’s new league year on March 13.

As a result, Ekeler is slated to become an unrestricted free agent who will be eligible to sign with any team. The sports contracts website Spotrac projects his market value to be a three-year, $22 million contract.

After going undrafted in 2017 following his college career at Western Colorado, Ekeler signed as a free agent with the Chargers and has since proven to be one of the most versatile offensive players in the NFL. Over the course of his seven-year career, he has amassed 8,239 yards from scrimmage (4,355 rushing yards and 3,884 receiving yards), in addition to 69 total touchdowns (39 rushing, 30 receiving).

Considering his versatility, the 28-year-old Ekeler could prove to be one of the more attractive running backs in a crowded free agent class. In addition to Ekeler, Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry are also expected to hit the open market this offseason.

[ESPN, Spotrac]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.