Justin Herbert

Chargers Sign Justin Herbert To Five-Year Extension

JULY 26: The extension, which ties Herbert to the Chargers through the 2029 season, is now official. Herbert’s 2023 and ’24 cap hits will be under $20MM, with the ’24 number ($19.3MM) representing a $10MM decrease from his $29.5MM fifth-year option salary. The 2025 number checks in at $37.3MM, per OverTheCap, with the ’26 cap hit sitting at $46.3MM. The Bolts will undoubtedly go to the restructure well during this contract, as $58.3MM (2027) and $71.1MM (’28) cap figures appear on this deal down the road.

JULY 25: The latest quarterback domino has fallen. The Chargers have signed quarterback Justin Herbert to a massive five-year extension worth up to $262.5MM, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The new deal will keep Herbert in Los Angeles through at least the 2029 season. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), the new deal contains a no-trade clause.

According to Jonathan Jones of CBS (via Twitter), the deal can actually reach $265MM with incentives. The five-year extension includes $218MM in guaranteed money, according to Daniel Popper of The Athletic (via Twitter). Schefter clarifies (on Twitter) that the extension contains $133.7MM in fully guaranteed money, $193.7MM with the injury guarantee, and a potential $218.7MM in total guarantees.

Rapoport notes on Twitter that Herbert will earn a whopping $100MM in year one of the extension, topping the previous one-year high of $80MM in earnings. This will be a significant raise for Herbert, who was set to earn $4.2MM in the fourth year of his rookie deal, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

In terms of new money, Herbert’s deal will rank fourth at the position in full guarantees and injury guarantees, per Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com (via Twitter). Herbert’s overall guarantees will slide him in third among QBs, and his overall injury guarantees will rank second at the position.

It was only a matter of time until the two sides ultimately agreed to a new deal. We heard back in March that the Chargers and Herbert had started extension talks, and with several quarterbacks having already reset the positional market this offseason, Herbert appeared to be the next in line.

Jalen Hurts (five years, $255MM) briefly held the title of highest-paid QB before Lamar Jackson‘s extension (five years, $260MM) a week later. Now, a few months after Jackson signed his record-breaking deal, Herbert is once again resetting the market, settling in at a contract that will pay him $52.5MM. The Chargers QB is now one of four players at his position to top $50MM (along with Hurts, Jackson, and Aaron Rodgers), and it will only be a matter of time before Joe Burrow and the Bengals agree to an extension that once again reshapes the market.

A mega-deal is certainly warranted for Herbert. Through three seasons in the league, Herbert has quickly established himself as one of the NFL’s top signal-callers. His 14,089 passing yards are the most through a player’s first three seasons in NFL history, and his 94 touchdowns through three seasons trails only Dan Marino (98) on the all-time list.

The sixth-overall pick in the 2020 draft, Herbert earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after tossing 31 touchdowns vs. 10 interceptions. He got a Pro Bowl nod in 2021 after compiling 38 touchdowns, but Herbert found the end zone only 25 times in 2022. However, he had a career-high 68.2 completion percentage this past season while guiding the Chargers to 10 wins and his first career playoff appearance.

2023 will be a crucial year for the Chargers. With Herbert’s extension set to kick in, the cash-strapped organization will look to capitalize on an offense led by Herbert, running back Austin Ekeler, and wideouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. As ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry points out on Twitter, the Chargers’ ability to sign Herbert on the eve of training camp also ensures that there will be zero distractions as the Chargers look to install coordinator Kellen Moore‘s new offense.

Extension Candidate: Justin Herbert

Now that the league’s most controversial quarterback extension discussion has come to an end, it’s time to move on to what may be the second-most controversial. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has shown some impressive regular season success in Los Angeles, but without results in the postseason, does he deserve to earn what some of his colleagues are making?

The 2020 quarterback class recently became eligible to sign their second NFL contracts. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, in a slightly different situation with no fifth-year option due to being drafted in the second round, broke the mold before heading into the final year of his rookie contract, signing an extension that gave him the highest annual average contract value in the NFL, a record that would be broken weeks later by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The Packers decided to get ahead of the pack, as well, signing inexperienced quarterback Jordan Love to an extension of his four-year rookie deal that will keep him under contract through this season and the next. Aside from that, the remaining first-round quarterbacks from the 2020 NFL Draft are playing it patient. The Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow seem to be in a bit of a holding pattern, watching Herbert and the Chargers. The Dolphins also seem to be sitting pat on a new deal for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Injury issues, namely frequent concussions, have Miami playing it slow, as Tagovailoa’s future appears uncertain to say the least.

That brings us to Herbert. The 2020 class’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Herbert has been a statistical phenom in Los Angeles. Through his first three seasons, Herbert has passed for 14,089 yards, more than any other player in NFL history through their first three years. He followed up his ORoY campaign with a Pro Bowl sophomore season. He averages just over 31 passing touchdowns per year to just over 11 interceptions. Despite throwing for the fewest touchdowns of his career last season, he finally saw his team’s success result in a postseason appearance. That paradox serves as a microcosm of the biggest issue currently surrounding his legacy: what good are statistics if they don’t lead to team success?

With Herbert behind center, the Chargers are 25-24. They have floated just above .500 since he took his place atop the depth chart. In his lone postseason contest, the Chargers’ defense consistently put Herbert and the offense in positions to succeed, leading to a 27-0 lead over Jacksonville to begin the game. As the Jaguars mounted their comeback, though, Herbert and the offense struggled generate much scoring as the team only managed three second-half points. That loss ultimately puts his record as a starter at 25-25, including the postseason.

The blame doesn’t fall solely on Herbert’s shoulders, of course. A middling-to-subpar defense in the past three years has made Herbert’s job that much harder. Injuries to leading offensive players like running back Austin Ekeler and wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have put him in tough situations from time to time, as well. Still, quarterbacks like Jackson and Hurts have made winning without stats look easy, while Hurts and Burrow have found enough postseason success to each have a Super Bowl loss on their records. Herbert’s statistical success should well reward him and set him on track for a top contract, but his lack of winning success could lessen his price tag a bit.

Veteran general manager Tom Telesco has been here before with Philip Rivers. As a student of Bill Polian with the 2000’s Colts, Telesco had a front row seat to how Indianapolis paid Peyton Manning while still fielding a strong team around him. Seeing the success that that resulted in, Telesco will likely be aiming for a more team-friendly deal when trying to extend Herbert.

At least in our situation, I don’t think I need to have that talk with our quarterback. I think he’s fully aware, has really good self-awareness on how much money he is going to make, how it affects the team,” Telesco said. “But like most agents will tell you, like, it’s my job to figure out how to make sure that the player gets the value that he deserves and we build a team around him.”

With that in mind, what might a deal for Herbert look like? This is a tough one. As the price tag for quarterbacks continues to climb, Herbert is expected to make over $50MM per year. The statistical success backs that assertion, and the development of the deals of Hurts and Jackson make that harder to deny. Yes, Mahomes and Allen aimed for longer deals (slightly for Allen, extremely for Mahomes), that take a bit of burden off the team, but those deals came in 2020 for Mahomes and 2021 for Allen. It’s hard to imagine that both of those deals would still be under $50MM per year in 2023.

If Herbert and Telesco are on the same page about a team-friendly deal, it’s going to be based off of length. Herbert may end up looking at a six- to eight-year deal. With the added years to the contract, he may agree to take a bit less than the five-year deals Hurts and Jackson signed. I could see an eight-year, $400MM deal with a $50MM AAV or maybe a six-year, $306MM deal with a $51MM AAV. If the team waits longer to make the deal, they not only risk further inflation to contract prices, they also risk Herbert driving up the price tag with some postseason success.

Telesco has his work cut out for him. The team clearly wants to commit to Herbert long-term. With seven players all set to make over $10MM next year, the team’s payroll is getting top-heavy. He’ll have to work some Colts-Manning magic in order to give Herbert the long-term deal he deserves while not totally handicapping the team’s ability to stack top-end talent around him.

Latest On Joe Burrow, Bengals Contract Negotiations

The Bengals have been negotiating a new deal with Joe Burrow for months, and with the offseason all but over, the front office’s current top priority is extending their franchise quarterback.

[RELATED: Bengals Pick Up Joe Burrow’s Fifth-Year Option]

Since we last learned in May that Burrow was taking a hands-on approach to negotiations, there haven’t been many updates. As Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic writes, there may be a reason for the holdup, with sources attributing the slow-going nature of negotiations to “outside forces at play.”

Dehner surmises that both the Bengals and Burrow may be waiting to see how Justin Herbert‘s negotiations unfold with the Chargers. That impending extension would be the “final piece of the puzzle” that would allow both Burrow and the Bengals to feel comfortable about the QB’s market.

Of course, both sides have kept negotiations “close to the vest,” and Dehner cautions that any reports on specific contract details would likely be speculation. In other words, there’s no reason for Bengals fans to fret over the lack of reports coming out of Cincinnati.

Burrow has quickly put himself in position to be one of the highest-paid QBs in the NFL, having guided the Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance in 2021 before tossing a career-high 35 touchdowns during his third NFL season. Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson recently eclipsed the $50MM-per-year mark on their new contracts, and Burrow will likely be eyeing a similar payout on his next deal.

The former first-overall pick has one year remaining on his rookie pact, and he will be tied to a 2024 salary of $29.5MM given the Bengals’ decision to pick up his fifth-year option. There’s no true urgency to agree to an extension, but considering some of the other Bengals players due new contracts, some cost certainty at the QB position should only help the front office.

Chargers’ Tom Telesco Addresses Justin Herbert Contract Outlook

The 2019 quarterback class did not feature multiple members on Year 4 extension tracks last year, with only Kyler Murray on that radar. A year after Murray’s deal, the 2020 QB class’ first bite at the extension apple is producing more fireworks.

Jalen Hurts$51MM-per-year Eagles deal laid the groundwork, but the Super Bowl LVII starter became a locked-in extension candidate much later than draft contemporaries Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. The Bengals and Chargers passers remain on their rookie contracts but will almost definitely sign extensions that surpass Hurts’ April accord. Both players have begun discussions regarding their second contracts.

A QB extension will not be new territory for Chargers GM Tom Telesco. In addition to hammering out Philip Riversfour-year, $84MM deal in 2015, Telesco was with the Colts for Peyton Manning‘s entire tenure. As Telesco moved up from the scouting ranks to director of player personnel in Indianapolis, the Colts gave Manning two extensions. The first — a seven-year, $98MM pact — came in 2004, but the second (five years, $90MM — in 2011) did not lead to any playing time. Manning’s neck injury forced him to miss all of the ’11 season, and the Colts cut the all-time great in March 2012. Prior to the release, Indianapolis continually constructed championship-caliber rosters around its perennial MVP candidate. This included Super Bowl XLI and XLIV appearances despite highly paid pass rushers and wide receivers (though, Marvin Harrison was not on the second Super Bowl roster) joining Manning on Indy’s payroll.

Telesco, 50, has used Manning’s first Colts extension as a blueprint for building a team around a monster QB deal, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com notes. The 11th-year Chargers GM kept a binder in his office themed around how the Colts built around Manning. As Herbert is ticketed to become a $50MM-per-year player, Telesco’s Chargers team-building mission will soon change.

Some of it doesn’t apply anymore, but there’s still some things in there that I’ve written down that I’ve learned that like, yeah, this definitely is going to apply,” Telesco said.

The 2011 CBA introduced the modern rookie-scale contract, changing roster-building equations and creating a tremendous advantage for teams that find impact quarterbacks in the draft. The Chargers have been unable to follow the paths of several teams — the Eagles (twice) and Chiefs among them — in making a Super Bowl trip with a rookie-QB contract, but they have found a superstar-caliber passer. Herbert seems unlikely to go into his fourth season without a new deal, and while typical extension terms leave teams early-years wiggle room regarding cap hits, the Chargers’ model will change during Herbert’s second contract.

Since Patrick Mahomes‘ 10-year, $450MM deal, only one QB — the Bills’ Josh Allen — has come relatively close to agreeing to a team-friendly extension like the one the Chiefs orchestrated. Allen signed a six-year extension in 2021. Of the other QBs to sign lucrative re-ups since Mahomes’ July 2020 deal — Deshaun Watson (twice), Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, Murray, Russell Wilson, Hurts and Lamar Jackson — none have agreed to contracts longer than five years. The Mahomes model may not be realistic for Burrow or Herbert, given how their other peers have proceeded (and the Chiefs potentially needing to adjust the 10-year deal three offseasons after they finalized it), but Telesco views his centerpiece player as understanding how his contract will affect the Chargers’ team-building effort.

At least in our situation, I don’t think I need to have that talk with our quarterback. I think he’s fully aware, has really good self-awareness on how much money he is going to make, how it affects the team,” Telesco said. “But like most agents will tell you, like, it’s my job to figure out how to make sure that the player gets the value that he deserves and we build a team around him.”

The Bolts have four $20MM-per-year players on their payroll, though only one of those (Joey Bosa) may profile as a long-term roster cog. Khalil Mack is going into his age-32 season, while Keenan Allen is now 31. Mike Williams‘ deal runs through 2024, and the Bolts just drafted Quentin Johnston in Round 1. The Chargers also have Derwin James signed to the NFL’s top safety contract and Corey Linsley inked to a top-five center deal. Rookie-deal standouts like Rashawn Slater will become necessary around Herbert, especially if the Oregon product becomes the latest QB to eschew the Mahomes structure and opt for a more traditional extension.

It will be interesting to see which of the 2020 first-rounders signs his extension first and if Burrow — after two AFC championship game appearances and a Super Bowl start — pushes to create distance between himself and Herbert. Until these contracts are finalized, the Bengals and Chargers will continue to be linked due to their QBs’ parallel tracks.

Latest On Chargers CB J.C. Jackson, QB Justin Herbert

Saying that cornerback J.C. Jackson‘s first year with the Chargers could have gone better would be an understatement. Jackson, who signed a five-year, $82.5MM contract with the Bolts last March, underwent ankle surgery in August to repair an issue that cropped up during training camp, which forced him to miss the 2022 regular season opener. He also missed Los Angeles’ Week 3 contest, and while he suited up for the club’s next four games, he suffered a patellar tendon rupture in a Week 7 loss to the Seahawks and was sidelined for the rest of the campaign.

Even when he was on the field, Jackson did not come close to living up to his contract. In five games, he surrendered a 149.3 QB rating on passes thrown in his direction, according to Pro Football Reference. Pro Football Focus was even less friendly, charging him with a 152.4 rating and assigning him a dismal 28.1 coverage grade.

Nonetheless, it is clear that the Chargers are continuing to count on Jackson in a big way. The team neither drafted nor signed a cornerback, save for a handful of UDFA’s, so it will return Asante Samuel Jr., Michael Davis, and Jackson as its top three boundary corners.

GM Tom Telesco‘s approach to the cornerback position not only suggests that he expects a rebound effort from Jackson, but also that he is confident in Jackson’s medical prognosis. While a torn patellar tendon can be one of the toughest injuries to overcome, Telesco says that Jackson is making good progress in his rehab (via Daniel Popper of The Athletic (subscription required)). Popper said that Jackson was working with a trainer on the first day of the Chargers’ offseason program, and that he had started running on a treadmill.

Telesco is optimistic that Jackson will be able to participate in training camp. That would obviously go a long way towards getting the 27-year-old back to the Pro Bowl form he displayed as a member of the Patriots, thus bolstering a defense that surrendered the seventh-fewest passing yards per game in 2022 despite what was essentially a lost season from last year’s biggest free agent investment.

Another high-profile Charger who is currently on the mend, quarterback Justin Herbert, provided a recent update on his recovery. Herbert, who underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, said he has not thrown a football since the procedure and estimates that he is 75% recovered (via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry).

Herbert expects to begin throwing this month, and the five- to six-month recovery timeline he provided would allow him to be at full strength for training camp. Telesco, who picked up Herbert’s fifth-year option for 2024 and who has commenced negotiations on what will be a massive contract extension, clearly does not have any concerns about his quarterback’s health status.

When asked about those contract talks, Herbert did not provide much of an update.

“I’m kind of left out of those negotiations, and I think my job now, my focus is to be the best quarterback that I can be and to rehab my shoulder,” the 2021 Pro Bowler said. “I’ve got complete faith in the Chargers organization and the front office. They’ve done such a great job of taking care of us as players, and I’ve loved to be a part of this team, being a part of this organization, and it’s kind of beyond my control of as to what happens now. I’m just doing everything I can that I can control.”

2024 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2020 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the third-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Joe Burrow, Bengals ($29.5MM): Exercised
  2. DE Chase Young, Commanders ($17.45MM): Declined
  3. CB Jeff Okudah, Falcons* ($11.51MM): N/A
  4. T Andrew Thomas, Giants ($14.18MM): Exercised
  5. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins ($23.2MM): Exercised
  6. QB Justin Herbert, Chargers ($29.5MM): Exercised
  7. DT Derrick Brown, Panthers ($11.67MM): Exercised 
  8. LB Isaiah Simmons, Cardinals ($12.72MM): Declined
  9. CB C.J. Henderson, Jaguars** ($11.51MM): Declined
  10. T Jedrick Wills, Browns ($14.18MM): Exercised
  11. T Mekhi Becton, Jets ($12.57MM): Declined
  12. WR Henry Ruggs, Raiders: N/A
  13. T Tristan Wirfs, Buccaneers ($18.24MM): Exercised
  14. DT Javon Kinlaw, 49ers ($10.46MM): Declined
  15. WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos ($14.12MM): Exercised
  16. CB AJ Terrell, Falcons ($12.34MM): Exercised
  17. WR CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys ($17.99MM): Exercised
  18. OL Austin Jackson, Dolphins ($14.18MM): Declined
  19. CB Damon Arnette, Raiders: N/A
  20. DE K’Lavon Chaisson, Jaguars ($12.14MM): Declined
  21. WR Jalen Reagor, Vikings*** ($12.99MM): To decline
  22. WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings ($19.74MM): Exercised
  23. LB Kenneth Murray, Chargers ($11.73MM): Declined
  24. G Cesar Ruiz, Saints ($14.18MM): Declined
  25. WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers ($14.12MM): Exercised
  26. QB Jordan Love, Packers ($20.27MM): Extended through 2024
  27. LB Jordyn Brooks, Seahawks ($12.72MM): Declined
  28. LB Patrick Queen, Ravens ($12.72MM): Declined
  29. T Isaiah Wilson, Titans: N/A
  30. CB Noah Igbinoghene, Dolphins ($11.51MM): Declined
  31. CB Jeff Gladney, Vikings: N/A
  32. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs ($5.46MM): To decline

* = Lions traded Okudah on April 11, 2023
** = Jaguars traded Henderson on Sept. 27, 2021
*** = Eagles traded Reagor on August 31, 2022

Chargers To Pick Up Justin Herbert’s Fifth-Year Option

Day 2 of the NFL draft is about to begin, but the Chargers have made a noteworthy (if entirely unsurprising) decision with the central figure already on their roster. Los Angeles will pick up quarterback Justin Herbert‘s fifth-year option, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Doing so will lock him in to a cap hit of just over $29.5MM in 2024.

The news comes on a busy week of QB developments, including the Jets’ long-awaited trade acquisition of Aaron Rodgers being agreed upon and Lamar Jackson‘s Ravens extension materializing. Herbert’s 2020 draft classmate, Joe Burrow, also had his option picked up by the Bengals. The Chargers are taking the same path with their franchise signal-caller, as attention is sure to turn on the possibility of a long-term extension soon following.

Herbert, 25, is eligible for a second contract, and his market may have seen two benchmarks established recently. The deals signed by Jalen Hurts with the Eagles and by Jackson (worth $51MM and $52MM per season, respectively) will no doubt be used during negotiations for both Herbert and Burrow. The former has one Pro Bowl nod on his resume, along with a first career postseason appearance in 2022.

The Oregon product earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2020, but has been maligned for the team’s lack of sustained success during his tenure. Herbert has nevertheless done enough to convince the Chargers to commit to him for the 2024 campaign, as they prepare to presumably take contract negotiations to a new level in the near future.

The Chargers have made it clear they have started talks with Herbert on what will be a monster deal. He may not land a contract with the AAV of Jackson, Hurts and (quite possibly, Burrow), but he should still be well-positioned to spend the foreseeable future in Los Angeles. At a minimum, he will be in place for the next two years as he and the team look to build off their success from last year.

Chargers, Justin Herbert Talking Extension

Justin Herbert recently became eligible to sign an extension, and the Chargers confirmed that they’ve started negotiations with their franchise quarterback.

“Those talks are ongoing,” coach Brandon Staley said today (via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry). “We’re at the beginning of all that, but all know how we feel about him.”

Herbert will earn a bit more than $4MM during his fourth season in the NFL, but the former sixth-overall pick will surely be eyeing a significant pay raise on his next contract. With Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts also eligible to sign extensions, Aaron Rodgers may not be the league’s only $50MM player for much longer.

Herbert hasn’t matched Burrow’s or Hurt’s playoff success, but he’s put up some impressive regular season numbers to start his career. The Chargers QB has thrown for 14,089 passing yards, the most by a player through their first three NFL seasons. Herbert has also tossed 94 touchdowns vs. 35 interceptions, including a 2022 campaign where he threw 25 touchdowns while guiding the Chargers to the postseason. The 25-year-old had offseason shoulder surgery but is expected to be ready for the start of the 2023 season.

Naturally, the Chargers aren’t committing to any particular deadline to sign Herbert to an extension, but as Thiry notes, the organization has already “expressed optimism about the situation.”

“Navigating this process, we have a very good relationship with his team,” Staley said. “I’m confident that Justin Herbert is going to be our quarterback for a long time and that we’ll make sure that we get a deal done.

“[We’ve got to] just be patient,” Staley added. “But the major takeaway is that Justin Herbert is going to be our quarterback, and we’re so excited that he is leading our franchise.”

As Thiry notes, the Chargers will still have to make a decision on Herbert’s fifth-year option this offseason. The team will obviously pick up that option, with GM Tom Telesco referring to the inevitable move as a “formality” because of the QB’s impending extension.

AFC West Notes: Brown, Chargers, Raiders

Orlando Brown Jr. will command either a second franchise tag, another lucrative Chiefs extension offer or a massive free agency accord. The four-time Pro Bowler wants to stay in Kansas City, but it certainly does not sound like any hometown discount will be considered.

Yeah, absolutely, I want to stay here, but the business is the business,” Brown said, via Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams. “Things happen. Whatever happens, man, I’ll be prepared to go.”

This stance is unsurprising, given how the franchise-tagged tackle played his 2022 negotiations. Despite acquiring Brown via trade in 2021, the Chiefs tabled extension talks until last year. Brown changed agents, hiring a representative without a football background, and said Kansas City’s offer was too light on guarantees for him to sign. The Chiefs offered Brown a six-year, $139MM deal that contained the second-most guarantees among tackles, and although a bloated final-year salary existed to increase the AAV to top Trent Williams‘ $23MM mark, Brown passed. This rankled some in the organization. Pro Football Focus viewed the mammoth left tackle as making slight improvements in 2022, slotting him as a top-20 player at the position. Barring a major injury in Super Bowl LVII, Brown will be in strong negotiating position again soon.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Justin Herbert will be taking some time off ahead of the Chargers‘ offseason program. The star quarterback underwent surgery to address a shoulder labrum injury, according to the team. Herbert underwent the procedure on his nonthrowing shoulder, which became an issue late in the season. The Chargers expect their QB to be ready in time for their offseason program, which will be a bit more important for Herbert and Co. due to the team having changed offensive coordinators.
  • On the OC topic, the Chargers will entrust Herbert’s fourth season to Kellen Moore. The 33-year-old play-caller made a quick move from Dallas to L.A., being informed he was not returning for a fifth season as the Cowboys’ OC to landing the Bolts job within a day. Prior to the Chargers moving quickly on Moore, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes they were leaning toward hiring Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson (Twitter link). Multiple coordinator-seeking teams believed Robinson, a former Brandon Staley coworker, would land the gig. Robinson has interviewed for the Ravens’ OC position, but as of now, the young assistant is set to return to the Rams.
  • Kyzir White departed the Chargers after a productive contract year, one that led the linebacker to the Eagles. Set to start in Super Bowl LVII, White is still auditioning for a long-term payday. The Eagles gave the converted safety a one-year, $3MM deal. Despite White tallying a career-high 144 tackles and starting 17 games for the 2021 Chargers, The Athletic’s Daniel Popper notes Staley’s system not placing a high value on off-ball ‘backers led the Bolts to let him walk (subscription required). This could be relevant intel for the Bolts’ Kenneth Murray plan. The team chose Murray in the first round before Staley’s arrival; his fifth-year option will cost $12.72MM.
  • The Bolts should be expected to consider re-signing right tackle Trey Pipkins, per Popper. Winning the right-side job in training camp after making offseason improvements, Pipkins suffered an MCL sprain and aggravated the injury twice upon returning. The free agent-to-be still started 14 games. Pro Football Focus ranked Pipkins 67th among tackles, though Popper notes the Chargers will likely hold the former third-round pick in higher regard compared to the rest of the league. It will be interesting to see what Pipkins’ market produces, as starter-caliber tackles generally do well in free agency.
  • Adam Butler secured a pretty nice reserve/futures deal with the Raiders. The veteran defensive tackle’s one-year pact includes $485.8K guaranteed, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets, adding the contract can spike to $2MM. A former Patriots regular, Butler did not play in 2022 after being cut by the Dolphins during training camp.

Chargers GM Expresses Support For Brandon Staley, Decision To Play Starters In Week 18

Speculation swirled about Brandon Staley‘s employment status ahead of the Chargers-Jaguars wild-card game and following his team’s 27-point collapse, but the Bolts will keep their head coach for a third season.

Eleventh-year GM Tom Telesco said Staley was never on shaky ground. Rumors connected the Chargers to Sean Payton, who has been connected to this job for a while. The Los Angeles-stationed FOX analyst will need to accept another position or wait until 2024 for the AFC’s Los Angeles gig to potentially open up, however.

That was probably more [media] discussion than ours,” Telesco said of Staley’s hot-seat status, via ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry. “The front office’s belief in Brandon hasn’t changed. He’s got our belief. Our players believe in him. He’s a tremendous leader.”

The Payton matter has lingered for a while, but the Chargers’ past two games accelerated rumblings of a firing. The Chargers’ decision to play their starters in Week 18 ended up being costly, with Mike Williams suffering a transverse process fracture — an injury discovered late last week — that prevented him from making the trip to Jacksonville.

Los Angeles totaled three second-half points in the third-biggest collapse in playoff history, and the team lost wideout DeAndre Carter during the Jaguars matchup. Staley’s decision to play starters against the Broncos in their regular-season finale was believed to be an organizational decision. Many Chargers staffers knew this was the plan, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, who indicated everyone was onboard with Staley’s call (video link). Telesco confirmed as much Thursday. “Brandon kind of mapped out what his plan was and yeah, I’m going to support that,” Telesco said.

Staley, 40, is 19-15 with the Chargers, who have continued to battle injuries under his watch. Several big-ticket players missed extended stretches for the team this season, extending a trend that persisted during multiple previous Bolts regimes. Staley’s seat stands to be hot in 2023, as the Chargers have not ranked inside the top 20 on defense — the third-year HC’s side of the ball. But the Chargers gave both Mike McCoy and Anthony Lynn four seasons apiece.

The Chargers have made some changes in the wake of that loss. They fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day. Staley cited the offense needing to reach a new gear, and Telesco said (via Thiry) Justin Herbert will have input as to who the team hires as its next play-caller. While the team is not planning any contract talks with Herbert until after Super Bowl LVII, at least, it will entrust Herbert with contributing to this big-picture decision. Herbert became extension-eligible this month but can be controlled through the 2024 season, via the fifth-year option the Bolts will exercise in May.

As for the Chargers’ OC plans, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen notes Frank Reich makes sense as a candidate (Twitter link). Reich was with the Chargers for three seasons under McCoy, and he served as their OC from 2014-15. Reich has booked HC interviews with the Cardinals and Panthers; the former Colts HC has ties to each of those teams as well. The Rams have been connected to Reich as a potential OC, making it fairly clear the respected coach will have options in the event he is unable to snag one of the available HC jobs.

One candidate the Bolts wanted to meet with has cut off a potential partnership. Vikings OC Wes Phillips rejected a Bolts interview request, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Phillips, who just finished his first year as Minnesota’s OC, holds a non-play-calling role with the team. While calling Herbert-run plays will be a draw for OC candidates, Fowler notes Phillips will stay with the Vikings.

Lastly, the Chargers fired linebackers coach Michael Wilhoite, Daniel Popper of The Athletic tweets. A former NFL linebacker, Wilhoite had been with the Bolts for two seasons. This marked the 36-year-old staffer’s first gig coaching a position; he worked as a lower-level Saints assistant before heading to L.A.