Chargers GM says Gus Edwards will be 'bell cow' at RB for Jim Harbaugh's offense

Teams are often coy with their running back usage this far out from the season, but not the Los Angeles Chargers.

Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz told reporters Thursday that free agent signee Gus Edwards will serve as the team’s “bell cow” running back, meaning he would get carries at all spots on the field and on all downs.

From the Chargers:

“I think specifically with Gus, I’ve seen him deal with the adversity of the [ACL] injury two years ago and come back from it,” Hortiz said. “Grind, be physical, continue to play the same brand of football he’s always played. Really excited to have him.

“He’s the bell cow, the goal line [guy], the finisher,” Hortiz added. “The right mentality for what we’re looking to do here. I told you we wanted to be bigger, play a physical style of football on both sides of the ball and he helps us do that.”

Edwards signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract with the Chargers during free agency, leaving the Baltimore Ravens after five seasons of working mostly as the No. 2 running back. He was a steady presence in the Ravens’ backfield, rushing between 700 and 850 yards in every season with at least 10 games played, and he was also highly effective.

Edwards’ career 4.9 yards per rush would put him in a tie for 16th on he NFL’s all-time leaderboard. That’s partially attributable to the presence of Lamar Jackson, whom run defenses always have to consider, but it shows Edwards was overall effective.

That experience made him attractive for the Chargers as they transition to a more run-focused offense under Jim Harbaugh. The team’s many Ravens connections also made him a natural fit. Hortiz was hired this offseason from the Ravens, for whom he worked as director of player personnel. Chargers offensive coordinator Greg Roman previously worked the same job in Baltimore. The team also signed former Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst and center Bradley Bozeman.

And, of course, Harbaugh is the brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 17: Gus Edwards #35 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on from the sideline during the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Stadium on December 17, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

Gus Edwards is the clear starter at running back for the Chargers. (Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

Edwards is a significant departure from the Chargers’ previous starter at running back, Austin Ekeler, a smaller, receiving-focused back. At 6-foot-1, 238 pounds, Edwards is a classic power runner, and the only other running back still on the Chargers’ roster is Isaiah Spiller (137 rushing yards in two seasons).

Odds are the Chargers bring in another running back or two via the draft or the later stages of free agency, but it appears the question of carries is heavily in Edwards’ favor.

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