Easton Stick

Chargers To Bring Back QB Easton Stick

Easton Stick will soon begin work for another Chargers head coach. Brought in during Anthony Lynn‘s stay and retained throughout Brandon Staley‘s run, Stick will have a chance to remain as a Justin Herbert backup under Jim Harbaugh.

The Chargers reached an agreement to keep the North Dakota State alum Friday, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets. With an injury forcing Herbert to miss games for the first time, Stick received his first run of regular-season action last season. He will rejoin Herbert and 2023 seventh-rounder Max Duggan as Bolts QBs on the offseason roster.

It is interesting the Chargers will have each of their 2023 QBs back, with a new coaching staff and front office leadership being in place. Stick has been with the team since 2019, beginning his career as a third-stringer during Philip Rivers‘ final Chargers campaign. Stick then resided as Los Angeles’ QB3 behind Herbert and Tyrod Taylor, before Chase Daniel came in as QB2 in 2021. Daniel was not brought back for 2023, moving Stick — North Dakota State’s QB between Carson Wentz and Trey Lance — up on the depth chart. A Herbert development made that promotion relevant.

Herbert’s finger surgery brought in Stick to start the Bolts’ final four games. The team went 0-4 in that span, with the talent gap between the team’s first- and second-stringers rather wide. Stick threw three TD passes to one INT but was on the other end of a 63-21 blowout, the final game of the Staley-Tom Telesco era. All three of Stick’s TD passes came in that Raiders romp, though the Chargers were within one score of their final three opponents.

It would not surprise to see Harbaugh and GM Joe Hortiz use a later-round pick to bring in competition for the backup job, and Duggan — who was at the controls when TCU downed Harbaugh’s Michigan squad in the 2022 CFP semifinal round — could factor in as well.

Commanders To Sign QB Marcus Mariota

Widely expected to draft a passer with the second overall pick in this year’s draft, the Commanders are adding a veteran to the mix. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is set to join Washington on a one-year deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The pact has a base value of $6MM and can be worth up to $10MM, he adds.

Mariota’s journeyman status will continue with this pact. Washington will represent the fourth different team in as many years for the former No. 2 pick. After his run as the Titans’ starter came to an end in 2019, he had a two-year stint with the Raiders. That was followed by one-year pacts in Atlanta and Philadelphia, with the Falcons being the only team to provide a starting opportunity during that stretch.

The 30-year-old’s play in Atlanta came to an end under unusual circumstances. Mariota left the team before ultimately undergoing knee surgery. His performance and health status limited him to a one-year accord with the Eagles, although he has landed more money upfront and a higher maximum value this time around. The Oregon alum played in three games last season, attempting 23 passes. Easton Stick – a familiar face for new Eagles OC Kellen Moore – could replace Mariota as the team’s backup, Pro Football Network’s Adam Caplan notes.

The Commanders have Sam Howell on the roster, having drafted the North Carolina alum in 2022. He was handed the starting gig ahead of 2023, and for a time the 23-year-old showed flashes of potential. Things took a turn for the worse toward the end of the campaign, though, and a new general manager and head coach are in place compared to the regime which drafted him. Howell has been mentioned in trade talk with the expectation Washington would add a veteran passer before drafting either Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels in April.

Having Mariota in place will no doubt lead to increased chatter regarding a deal sending Howell out of the nation’s capital. A number of teams have already made a move on the backup quarterback market, but the latter (who has two more years on his rookie contract) could still be of interest to teams looking for a developmental option. Mariota, meanwhile, will aim to lock down the backup spot in Washington with the potential to see playing time early in 2024.

Chargers’ Justin Herbert Fractures Finger

DECEMBER 11, 7:35pm: Herbert is “very likely” to undergo surgery tomorrow, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The outcome of that operation will determine whether the QB is capable of returning to the field this season.

DECEMBER 11, 1:55pm: Herbert will consult with two hand specialists on Monday, Staley said, via Daniel Popper of The Athletic (subscription required). No firm decision has been made on his 2023 future, though Staley unsurprisingly added Herbert’s long-term health is the main consideration with respect to a recovery timeline.

Herbert has not yet been ruled out for the Chargers’ upcoming Thursday night game, but both Popper and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo note he is highly unlikely to suit up. With the Chargers’ playoff chances looking very slim at this point, it would come as no surprise if he were to be shut down for the remainder of the season. It will remain worth watching how he and the team proceed, however.

DECEMBER 10: The Chargers have dealt with a good amount of adversity so far this season. With five of their eight losses coming by three points or fewer, wide receivers Mike Williams and Josh Palmer finding their way to injured reserve, and injuries here and there causing absences of stars like Austin Ekeler and Joey Bosa, Los Angeles needed to show some resiliency in order to stay in the playoff race this weekend. Instead, they were dealt yet another injury, this one to perhaps their most important player.

Quarterback Justin Herbert was forced to exit today’s game when he apparently injured his finger. At the time, we didn’t know much as Herbert was ruled out and undressed from his pads but remained on the sideline to watch his backup Easton Stick. Now, it’s been reported that Herbert suffered a fracture to the index finger on his throwing hand, according to Kris Rhim of ESPN.

Head coach Brandon Staley was the one to report the injury, though he did not have any information on a timetable for Herbert’s return to play. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the plan is for Herbert to undergo an MRI scan tomorrow on the injured finger in order to determine the severity of the injury. More specifically, Rapoport’s post stated that they will look to determine “how long he’s out and if he’ll be able to return this season,” painting the potential outcome in a fairly negative light.

If the Chargers are forced to play games without Herbert, Stick would likely be the starter moving forward. Since being drafted in the fifth-round back in 2019, Stick had only appeared in one game before today. He played two snaps in Week 6 of the 2020 season, completing his lone attempted pass for four yards. Today, he saw his first extended action. In just over a half of play, Stick completed 13 of 24 pass attempts for 179 yards. He did lead the Chargers down the field on a touchdown drive late in the game by completing two big passes to rookie wide receiver Quentin Johnston before letting Ekeler punch it in from three yards out.

Even if Herbert only requires a short recovery period, the Chargers face a short week with their next game coming on Thursday night in Las Vegas. If Stick earns his first start in the upcoming week, he’ll have to be backed up by practice squad quarterback Max Duggan, the rookie teammate of first-year wide receivers Johnston and Derius Davis. Duggan would need to be called up as a standard gameday elevation or signed to the active roster in order to be on the gameday roster this week.

There’s another question that begs attention: How much time does Herbert need to be out, and how many games do the Chargers need to lose, for the team to shut him down for the season. Los Angeles just committed to making Herbert the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL (outdone shortly after by Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow‘s deal), locking him down with a five-year extension. If the playoffs start to appear out of reach, it may be in the best interest of Herbert and the team to hold him out for the rest of the year. Let him recover with little-to-no strain, and don’t risk doing any sort of permanent damage to your massive investment.

The Chargers don’t have to make that call just yet. They will look at the results of his scans tomorrow and have a much better idea of what the short-term future looks like. While he may need more time than three days and could miss Thursday, there’s still a chance Herbert recovers easily and is back for the last few weeks of the season. Still, with the pessimism displayed in Rapoport’s report, and the season beginning to wind down, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that we’ve seen the last of Herbert this year.

NFL Injury Roundup: Jefferson, Herbert, Hamilton

Justin Jefferson‘s return from injured reserve may not last long. In Jefferson’s first game back from the IR-stint caused by a nagging hamstring injury, the Vikings wide receiver was knocked out of the game early with a separate injury.

While cutting across the middle of the field on a deep slant, Jefferson leapt up, arms extended, in an attempt to grab a high pass from quarterback Joshua Dobbs. While Jefferson was fully exposed in the process of the catch, Raiders safety Marcus Epps delivered a big shot to Jefferson’s rib cage from the side.

It didn’t take long for the team to rule Jefferson out for the remainder of the game with a chest injury. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Minnesota decided to transport Jefferson to a local hospital in Las Vegas. While perhaps not indicative of the worst-case scenario, the Vikings are likely just acting out of an abundance of caution.

At 6-6, the Vikings are one of a handful of NFC teams on the boundary of playoff contention, even without Jefferson for the last eight weeks. If Jefferson’s chest injury is not too painful to overcome, he would be a great asset in a playoff push to close the season.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the league:

  • The Chargers are facing an uphill battle in their attempts to remain in playoff contention. Things won’t get any easier as starting quarterback Justin Herbert was ruled out of today’s game with a finger injury, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. With Herbert out, backup quarterback Easton Stick has entered the game for his first game action since the 2020 season. Since starting in place of an injured Tyrod Taylor in Week 2 of his rookie season, Herbert has not missed a single start in his career. If Herbert’s finger keeps him out for more than a few days, with Los Angeles facing a short week, Stick could see his first ever NFL start in Vegas this Thursday.
  • Ravens do-it-all safety Kyle Hamilton was forced to leave today’s overtime win over the Rams with a knee injury. He had sat out a couple of plays after initially tweaking his knee before returning to the field of play earlier in the game. A few drives later, he would not return and was ruled out for the rest of the game. According to Schefter, the plan is for Hamilton to undergo an MRI scan tomorrow in order to determine the extent of the injury. Baltimore is set up well with Marcus Williams and Geno Stone at safety, but Hamilton lines up in so many places on the defense that he would be virtually impossible to replace with a single player if he’s forced to miss any time.

Chargers To Re-Sign QB Easton Stick

The Chargers are retaining their backup QB. The team has agreed to a new contract with quarterback Easton Stick, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

It’s a one-year, $1.8MM deal for the backup, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Considering Stick’s struggles to take control of the QB2 spot on the Chargers depth chart, this contract seems to be a strong indication that he’ll be the definitive backup heading into next season.

Following a prolific career at North Dakota State that saw him set the record for most wins by a starting QB in NCAA Division I FCS history, Stick was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. He’s only seen time in one game since entering the league, completing one four-yard pass during the 2020 season. The Chargers didn’t give a QB2 any snaps during the 2021 season, and Chase Daniel got the brief call in 2022.

Now heading into 2023 with a new contract, there’s a good chance Stick will finally hold the second spot on the depth chart. At the very least, he’ll provide the coaching staff with a familiar face in case something happens to Justin Herbert.

AFC West Notes: Wilson, Chargers, Chiefs

The Chargers made the biggest cornerback splash this offseason, signing ex-Patriot J.C. Jackson. While Jackson’s starting spot is known, the rest of the Bolts’ corner arrangement is not. Asante Samuel Jr. will enter training camp with the lead to be the team’s other outside starter, according to Daniel Popper of The Athletic (subscription required). With Bryce Callahan signed to play in the slot, this would move Michael Davis to a bench role. Davis, who signed a three-year deal worth $25.8MM to stay in Los Angeles last year, started all 14 games he played for the 2021 Chargers. He has worked as a starter for the past three seasons. Pro Football Focus ranked both he and Samuel outside its top 80 corners last season, however. Samuel playing in the slot over Callahan, with Jackson and Davis outside, is another option for the Bolts, Popper adds. Callahan, who dealt with extensive injury problems in Denver, signed for barely the league minimum after the draft.

Shifting first to Denver, here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Although the NFL is amid its quiet period, the Broncos‘ new quarterback will host a pre-training camp of sorts ahead of the team reconvening. Russell Wilson will gather his pass catchers for a mid-July summit in San Diego, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Broncos have their top four wide receivers (Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler) and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam back, and Melvin Gordon‘s re-signing kept the team’s 2021 backfield intact. But Denver newcomers Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett‘s presences obviously loom larger, and the 11th-year QB will take advantage of some off time to accelerate his rapport with his new teammates.
  • Shifting back to L.A., the Bolts are planning to keep Kyle Van Noy in the versatile role he held with the Patriots. The post-draft free agency addition is expected to both work as an edge rusher and an off-ball linebacker, per Popper. Van Noy played both spots during the Bolts’ offseason program. The 31-year-old linebacker should be expected to be the team’s No. 3 edge rusher, behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, Popper adds. With the Pats and Dolphins over the past three years, Van Noy combined for 17.5 sacks.
  • Easton Stick‘s rookie contract expires after the 2022 season, and despite the Chargers having Chase Daniel back to be Justin Herbert‘s top backup, Popper notes the team is grooming the North Dakota State product to be Herbert’s post-Daniel QB2. Dating back to Tyrod Taylor‘s tenure, Stick, 26, has been L.A.’s third-stringer throughout his career. Carson Wentz‘s Bison successor has thrown one regular-season pass.
  • A Chiefs exec since 2017, Tim Terry is staying put with a new title. The team bumped him up to senior director of pro personnel, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Terry, 47, has been a key front office staffer for a while. Prior to coming to Kansas City, he spent eight years as the Packers’ assistant director of player personnel. The Chiefs lost one of Brett Veach‘s top lieutenants, assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles, this offseason. Poles is now the Bears’ GM.

Chargers Slash Roster To 53

In addition to the Chargers’ Russell Okung announcement, they finalized their 53-man roster.

Cardale Jones did not make the team, with Los Angeles going with Tyrod Taylor and rookie Easton Stick behind Philip Rivers. The XFL has openly mentioned Jones on multiple occasions, so the former Bills and Ohio State passer could be a high-profile candidate for the upstart league.

Here are the Bolts’ Saturday cuts:

Chargers Sign Four Draft Picks

The Chargers inked half of their draft class to contracts this morning. The team announced (via Twitter) that they’ve signed four rookies:

Tranquill has the best shot of establishing a role with the Chargers in 2019. While Los Angeles did add free agent Thomas Davis, the team is only rostering 11 linebackers at the moment (not including undrafted rookies). Plus, Tranquill previously played safety in college, and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will surely look for creative ways to capitalize on the rookie’s versatility. The Notre Dame product finished the 2018 season having compiled 86 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Egbule should also have a chance to rise up the linebackers depth chart. At the very least, the sixth-rounder out of Houston should contribute on special teams, and his speed will put him in position for plenty of tackles. Egbule wrapped up his collegiate career with 69 tackles and two sacks.

Stick is another intriguing prospect, but mostly because of his position. Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor will start the season atop the Chargers’ depth chart, but Stick will have an opportunity to compete with Cardale Jones for that third spot. Last season, Stick completed a career-high 62.3-percent of his passes for 2,752 yards, 28 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also added another 677 rushing yards.

Following today’s moves, the Chargers still have three unsigned draft picks: first-round defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, second-round safety Nasir Adderley, and third-round offensive tackle Trey Pipkins.

AFC Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/19

The latest 2019 draft pick signings from around the AFC:

  • The Jets agreed to terms with two more rookies, signing fifth round linebacker Blake Cashman and sixth round cornerback Blessaun Austin. Cashman had 104 tackles at Minnesota last year, including 15 for a loss. He earned a second-team All-Big Ten selection for his work last year. Only third overall pick Quinnen Williams and third-rounders Jachai Polite and Chuma Edoga remain unsigned for New York.
  • The Chargers inked two more players to their rookie deals, signing fifth round quarterback Easton Stick and fourth round linebacker Drue Tranquill. Stick, a North Dakota State product, was highly productive as a runner in college and many analysts projected a potential position change in the pros. That being said, the Chargers have said they plan on keeping Stick at quarterback. Tranquill is now wrapped up, and the Chargers can hopefully get his Notre Dame teammate, Jerry Tillery, signed soon. Most of the Chargers’ draft class remains unsigned as they just inked their first player earlier today.
  • The Bengals signed a crop of five players, representing half of their class. They wrapped up fourth-rounders Renell Wren and Michael Jordan, sixth round running backs Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson, and seventh round cornerback Jordan Brown. Jordan, a Miami product, has some potential upside and could help replenish Cincinnati’s secondary. Williams, from Texas A&M, and Anderson, from Oklahoma, will be battling it out for a role behind Joe Mixon in the Bengals’ backfield. Anderson used to be seen as one of the nation’s top running backs, but injuries have derailed his career. This draft class will always be a monumental one for the Bengals, as it represents the first year of the post-Marvin Lewis era.

AFC West Notes: Chargers, Stick, Broncos

On Saturday, the Chargers drafted their first quarterback since 2013 when they tapped North Dakota State University quarterback Easton Stick. Stick, who rushed for 2,523 yards and 41 TDs, was pegged by some as a Taysom Hill type who could be deployed more as a trick play type than a traditional QB, but the Bolts say that’s not how they plan on using him.

He’s going to play quarterback for us. We have running backs,” head coach Anthony Lynn said (via the Associated Press). “We don’t a need a quarterback that can run all over the place, but he can certainly create when he has to.”

Of course, as a fifth-round pick, nothing is guaranteed for the mobile signal caller. Stick will look to stick on the Chargers’ roster by proving himself between now and the start of the season in September.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Giants GM Dave Gettleman raised eyebrows everywhere when he selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones No. 6 overall. After the draft, he defended the pick by saying that two teams were prepared to select Jones before the Giants’ next pick at No. 17. So far, it has been hard to identify who these two teams might be, and Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter) confirms that the Broncos were not one of them. The Broncos, he hears, ruled out taking any QB at No. 10 overall and, furthermore, had Drew Lock as their top-ranked QB – not Jones.
  • The Raiders provided the draft’s other major first round surprise when they tapped Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall. Many feel that the Raiders reached for the defensive end, but that’s not how defensive coordinator Paul Guenther sees it. “It wasn’t about his 40-time or his three-cone drill or any of that [BS], it was about the whole package,” the DC said (via The Athletic). “There just aren’t a lot of guys like this. Some guys are great standing up, but you have to get down and dirty in the NFL. They are not just going to let you run up the field all day, you know what I am saying? Then you hear him talk and you’re like, ‘Damn, this guy is a pro.’
  • Over the weekend, longtime Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski announced his retirement from the NFL.