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Austin Ekeler trade rumors: Should Dolphins jump into discussions with Chargers?

The Miami Dolphins appear to be in win-now mode. Should they go all-in to acquire running back Austin Ekeler?

Los Angeles Rams v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are not afraid of making trades, as the 2022 acquisition of wide receiver Tyreek Hill and this year’s addition of cornerback Jalen Ramsey clearly demonstrates. The team is willing to turn draft picks and their potential into proven players who can help the team win now. And that is exactly what the Dolphins appear to be planning to do - win now. If Miami is really in win-now mode, should they be aggressively targeting running back Austin Ekeler and trying to work a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers?

Ekeler’s agent, Cameron Weiss, confirmed the Chargers have given the running back permission to seek a trade. Ekeler is looking for a new contract, with his current deal scheduled to expire after this season, and the Chargers do not seem in a hurry to make a new agreement. Giving Ekeler permission to seek a trade could be the Chargers allowing him to see what the market for his services looks like, then turn that into the starting point for negotiations. Or, it could be Los Angeles realizing they are not likely to re-sign him and giving themselves a chance to acquire draft picks in return for a 2017 undrafted free agent.

Should the Dolphins jump into the trade discussions? After all their previous deals, including Hill, Ramsey, 2022’s acquisition of running back Jeff Wilson, and 2022’s move for linebacker Bradley Chubb, the Dolphins currently have a second-round pick (51), a third-round pick (84), a sixth-round pick (197), and a seventh-round selection (238) this year. For 2024, the team has their first-, second-, fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-round picks. Their 2023 first-round and 2024 third-round picks were forfeited for tampering, while their 2024 fourth-round pick was included in the Chubb trade.

Ekeler rushed for 915 yards on 204 carries with 13 touchdowns last year, almost perfectly matching his 2021 stats of 911 rushing yards on 206 carriers with 12 touchdowns. He has 3,727 career rushing yards on 811 carries with 34 touchdowns. He has also caught 389 passes in his career for 3,448 yards with 29 touchdowns. He caught 107 passes last year, landing him fifth in the league in receptions and the only running back among the top 16 players. His 722 receiving yards were second among running backs last year, 19 yards behind San Francisco 49ers runner Christian McCaffrey.

The Dolphins re-signed Raheem Mostert and Salvon Ahmed this year, bringing back two of their running backs. They could still also look to bring back Wilson, for whom they traded during the season after sending Chase Edmonds, a 2022 free agent signing, to the Denver Broncos in the Chubb trade. Adding Ekeler, however, would appear to give them the elite runner to lead the group. [Editor’s note: The Dolphins re-signed Wilson on Tuesday afternoon, bringing him back on a two-year contract.]

Ekeler is currently 15th in the league in running backs in terms of the average value of his contract. A new deal would likely have to move him from an average of $6.1 million per year to somewhere around $15 million per year, potentially as high as at least $16.1 million if he is to surpass McCaffrey at the top of the list. Can the Dolphins get a deal done that would make sense for both Ekeler and the team?

Do the Dolphins have the cap space, and the draft picks, to make a move for Ekeler?

When McCaffrey was traded from the Carolina Panthers to the 49ers during the 2022 season, it cost the 49ers 2023 second-, third-, and fourth-round picks, along with a 2024 fifth-round pick. Would the Chargers be looking for something similar? More?

Miami is clearly looking to go all in right now, using the salary cap space available while quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is still on his rookie contract. They have added talent to the roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Could Ekeler be the missing piece for the offense?

Should the Dolphins jump into the trade discussions for Ekeler?


Should the Miami Dolphins jump into the Austin Ekeler trade discussions?

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Editor’s note: This article has been updated. Previously, the article incorrectly listed Miami as having two third-round draft picks in 2023, but one of those picks (77 overall) is part of the Jalen Ramsey trade. That trade does not become official until the start of the league year on Wednesday, March 15, at 4 p.m. ET, at which time that pick will move to the Los Angeles Rams.