NFL

Austin Ekeler Wants Tom Brady in a Chargers Uniform, but Not Just for His Arm

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Los Angeles Chargers enter an offseason looking for a franchise quarterback. Philip Rivers is expected to sign elsewhere as the Chargers transition into a new era of football. If Chargers running back Austin Ekeler gets his way, the Chargers will sign former Patriots quarterback and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.

Why Austin Ekeler wants to be teammates with Brady

Although Brady is getting older, the Chargers would immediately benefit from his knowledge and experience. Ekeler told NFL Network he believes the Chargers need Brady’s leadership after losing several veteran leaders.

“We just lost a lot of leadership in Philip Rivers, right? So it’s like, all right, there’s a void there,” Ekeler said. “Also, Russell Okung, one of our tackles, got traded. He was one of our team leaders as well. So there’s a void in leadership right there. It’s an opportunity for people to step up, but if you bring a guy like Tom Brady in the room, he’s been there, done that.

“He’s already got the leadership qualities and he’s already proven that he’s a winner. So hey, we can build something around that, too.”

Austin Ekeler

Brady is a six-time Super Bowl champion who often leads more with his play than his words. Still, Brady’s resume speaks for itself and he fits what the Chargers are looking for.

Brady makes sense for the Chargers’ short-term future

Realistically, the Chargers need to add a younger quarterback either this offseason or in 2021 even if they sign Brady. But if the Chargers would rather focus on selling tickets in a new stadium and competing for a Super Bowl next season, Brady is the ideal quarterback to sign. Many of the Patriots’ offensive issues last year should be pinpointed toward an inexperienced unit and Rob Gronkowski’s retirement rather than Brady’s age.

Ekeler already fits the dangerous, all-around running back role that Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk filled in New England. Adding another running back in the NFL draft and allowing Brady to fully transition into an Alex Smith-like role, a quarterback who benefits from an extremely balanced offense and doesn’t need to throw for 350 yards on 50 attempts per game, will go a long way in the Chargers’ postseason hopes.

What other quarterbacks should the Chargers pursue?

An unexpected reunion with Rivers, the Chargers’ starting quarterback since 2006, is likely off the table. Ryan Tannehill is an appealing option if he doesn’t re-sign with the Tennessee Titans and his predecessor, Marcus Mariota, showed flashes in his time with the Titans. Teddy Bridgewater impressed as a spot starter for the Saints last year. An inter-division trade with the Las Vegas Raiders for Derek Carr seems unlikely, but the NFL has provided stranger scenarios.

The Chargers should focus on addressing other needs, like offensive tackle or cornerback, with the No. 6 overall pick if Brady is their quarterback in 2020. Utah State quarterback Jordan Love may not last until the Chargers’ second pick, No. 37 overall, but he may warrant a trade back into the first round. If Love is off the board, the Chargers should consider Georgia’s Jake Fromm in the middle rounds or FIU’s James Morgan on Day 3.