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3 Potential Free Agent Running Backs For the Chargers to Target

The Chargers will be looking to upgrade their backfield in free agency, and these three running backs could be their top targets.
Chargers Running Backs

One of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL is that the Chargers are going to look at different running backs in free agency. With Austin Ekeler scheduled to hit the open market, most league reports indicate that the undrafted free agent will continue his career elsewhere. This makes sense, Ekeler publicly requested a trade last year and, after his demands weren’t met, responded with his worst season as a pro. Age appears to be catching up with the veteran, and while he’s still a reliable receiver, he no longer has the breakaway speed or build to be a true three-down workhorse.

Harbaugh believes in the power of the run game, and he’ll want a three-down back capable of playing every single snap. With the incoming crop of rookie running backs looking rather unimpressive, the Chargers will probably turn to free agency to find their backfield star of the future.

Currently, the team is $25.12 million over the salary cap, so the Chargers might not be able to get some of the top-dollar running backs on the open market. However, the team can easily clear up some cap space by releasing Mike Williams or extending Keenan Allen, so if Los Angeles wants to spend up on the position, they’ll have the ability to do so.

3 Running Backs the Chargers Could Target In Free Agency

Saquon Barkley

After playing on the franchise tag last year, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley should hit the open market this year. Arguably the most talented free agent at the position, the former second-overall pick should command a decent amount of attention from potential suitors. A true three-down threat, Barkley can destroy defenses as both a runner and a receiver and is a perfect fit for Greg Roman’s offense. While the Chargers won’t be able to outbid a team like the Houston Texans for the running back’s services, they should be on the short list of favorites to sign him.

Josh Jacobs

Josh Jacobs had a rough year in 2023, as he took a notable step back following his dominant 2022 campaign. This isn’t uncommon for running backs to struggle after a 300-touch season, and the Chargers could capitalize and buy low on one of the most talented backs in the league. Jacobs saw a smaller workload in 2023, so he should be healthier in the offseason. He’s also entering his age-26 season, so he’s not quite at the age where running backs tend to slow down. He should still have a few more years left in his tank, and Jacobs would probably love the opportunity to play against his old team twice a year.

D’Andre Swift

If the Chargers have to look for one of the cheaper three-down running backs, they could pivot to D’Andre Swift. After spending his first three years in a timeshare on the Detroit Lions, Swift finally had a chance to show what he could do in a featured role. Making the first Pro Bowl of his career, the former second-round pick recorded 1,049 rushing yards and 214 receiving yards in 16 games. Philadelphia’s offensive line made him look better than he was, but the fact remains that Swift has the talent to play on all three downs – he just might not break as many tackles as you’d like.

Main Photo: Kevin R. Wexler – USA Today Sports


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