Justin Herbert

Patriots, Vikings Inquired About Trade For Chargers’ Justin Herbert

Two of the six teams to end up with quarterbacks in the first round, the Patriots and Vikings began new chapters Thursday night. Extensive Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy ties to both organizations emerged during the pre-draft process, and each is tied to a rookie deal that could run through 2028 via the fifth-year option.

That did not stop both teams from a Hail Mary trade pitch for the NFL’s second-highest-paid player. The Pats and Vikings each contacted the Chargers about the prospect of trading for Justin Herbert, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports. New GM Joe Hortiz confirmed inquiries emerged for the star quarterback earlier this offseason, indicating he “quickly” shot down such interest.

Increased QB movement this decade has resulted in trades for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers over the previous three offseasons. But extenuating circumstances brought about those moves. A move for Herbert would have been among the most shocking deals at this position in NFL history, though the Bolts have made major changes this offseason. Watson is the only QB traded for three first-round picks since the mid-1970s; without any off-field baggage, Herbert would have commanded more in a haul.

The Chargers traded Herbert’s top wide receiver and released their longtime WR2 to move under the cap just before the 2024 league year. The team also passed on adding a top-flight WR prospect in the wake of the Keenan Allen and Mike Williams moves, drafting Joe Alt — confirming a run of rumors involving the Notre Dame tackle this offseason — over the likes of Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze. The Chargers have some work to do to build around their franchise centerpiece.

Still, Herbert’s presence represented a draw for HC candidates this offseason. Franchise-caliber QBs in their mid-20s (Herbert is going into his age-26 season) are not regularly tied to teams with HC vacancies, and the former No. 6 overall pick helped attract Jim Harbaugh — after nine years back in the college game — to make the move to the NFL. Herbert will be a different caliber of quarterback for Harbaugh — at least in the pros, as the ex-Stanford HC did mentor Andrew Luck — though a trade could have reunited the longtime Michigan coach with recent pupil McCarthy, whom he has raved about this offseason. But Herbert represents one of the NFL’s safest bets, whereas McCarthy will be among the rookies tasked with developing into a Hebert-level player. Not many QBs able to reach that level.

These inquiries coming at the Combine add intrigue to the deal, as the Chargers had not yet disbanded their wideout corps around a coaching staff expected to place a much higher priority on the run game in 2024. A Herbert trade also would have proved quite costly for the Chargers. Dealing the 2021 Pro Bowl starter would have brought a $63MM dead money charge, as the Chargers’ then-Tom Telesco-run front office handed the four-year veteran a five-year, $262.5MM extension in July 2023. Due to Herbert’s fifth-year option being picked up, that deal runs through the 2029 season. Among QBs, only Patrick Mahomes is signed to a longer-term accord.

The Bolts did well to find Herbert shortly after Philip Rivers‘ free agency defection. Since the Tyrod Taylor pregame injection drama brought the Oregon alum into the lineup in Week 2 of the 2020 season, Herbert has shown himself to be among the NFL’s most talented passers. The Bolts’ issues around their QB talent led to late-season GM and HC firings, but given his accomplishments thus far, it is unsurprising Harbaugh and Hortiz quickly dismissed this prospect.

The Pats carried more than $100MM in cap space at one point this offseason; they would have been able to accommodate Herbert’s deal, though New England’s roster would not have necessarily aligned with a high-priced QB. Minnesota’s would, given the presences of Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison. The Vikes also are carrying a $28.5MM dead money hit stemming from Kirk Cousins‘ free agency exit, making a rookie-deal passer valuable for a team unable to hammer out a fourth Cousins extension in 2023.

While it will be interesting to see how the Bolts finish off assembling a skill-position corps around Herbert, they do have what could become a top-tier tackle tandem in Alt and Pro Bowl LT Rashawn Slater. This Herbert mini-storyline stands to become a notable NFL “what if?”

Chargers Fallout: Harbaugh, Hortiz, Herbert, Staff, Minter, Michigan, Falcons

Although the Chargers reside in a different city than they did during Jim Harbaugh‘s time with the team as a quarterback, he will reunite with the organization that once gave him an opportunity as his career wound down. It took a big salary and appears to have brought considerable autonomy to complete this transaction.

Harbaugh signed a five-year contract, and Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz indicates the longtime Michigan HC is likely to have final say when it comes to personnel matters. Teams are often reluctant to provide this for head coaches, but Harbaugh brought leverage — due to the interest the Falcons showed and the offers Michigan made to keep him — that allowed him to maximize his position.

The Falcons had scheduled a second interview, but Harbaugh ended up postponing it. Harbaugh may or may not have intended to make that trip, but he used it during talks with the Chargers, who had long been the frontrunners in this race.

The Bolts did not give any of their Tom Telesco-era HCs final say, with the GM running the show. The team frequently struggled to turn Telesco’s well-regarded rosters into playoff berths, however, and Dean Spanos said ownership would spend time considering how it organized its power structure. It appears Harbaugh did enough to justify an HC-centric operation. Harbaugh, 60, also used president John Spanos‘ comments pushing back on the Chargers’ perceived frugality when it comes to HC spending to his advantage in negotiations, Schultz notes, adding the Chargers’ openness in giving such power to a head coach separated them during this year’s hiring period.

This contract is worth more than the $12.5MM-per-year deal Michigan is believed to have offered, and even if it falls short of the $18MM salary range Sean Payton established last year, Harbaugh will be given more control than any of the other HCs hired this year. The nine-year Wolverines HC appears prepared to bring his most recent DCJesse Minter — with him to Los Angeles, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes. Other staffers are likely to follow, per Schultz. Harbaugh made it a point during Bolts talks to mention bringing analytics staffers from Ann Arbor as well.

The power the Bolts are giving Harbaugh understandably gives him a considerable say in where the team’s GM search ends. This became a sticking point for Harbaugh, per Schultz. Given how his 49ers tenure concluded, it is logical this became a priority for the accomplished HC. Harbaugh’s feud with Trent Baalke and issues with 49ers ownership led him out the door after four years, bringing a steep freefall for the team before Kyle Shanahan — given a six-year contract due to what transpired in Baalke’s final years — began to pick up the pieces.

As for where the Bolts go at GM, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson indicates Ravens exec Joe Hortiz is considered the favorite by some around the league. Hortiz, the Ravens’ director of player personnel, has extensive ties to the Harbaugh family and has been in Baltimore for nearly the franchise’s entire existence. This would stand to better prepare him for the potential challenge of working with Jim Harbaugh.

Hortiz has worked alongside John Harbaugh since the latter’s arrival in 2008 but has been with the Ravens since 1998. Prior to his 2019 promotion under GM Eric DeCosta, Hortiz spent 10 years as the team’s director of college scouting. Hortiz joins Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown as the only candidates the Chargers have brought in twice.

Unsurprisingly, Justin Herbert‘s status loomed as a Harbaugh draw. Many around the NFL pointed to Harbaugh showing interest in elevating Herbert — who supplies one of the top QB skillsets in the game today — after an inconsistent recent run, Fowler adds. Harbaugh worked wonders for Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and is coming off a run with J.J. McCarthy that ended in a convincing national championship result. Via the extension he inked last summer, Herbert is tied to the Chargers through the 2029 season. Only Patrick Mahomes‘ contract runs beyond that timeframe.

Stanford went 1-11 during its final pre-Harbaugh season; the Cardinal finished 12-1 in 2010, propelling Harbaugh to the 49ers. San Francisco had missed eight straight playoff fields prior to Harbaugh’s 2011 arrival; he moved the team to three consecutive NFC championship games. Harbaugh’s .695 win percentage is the best among NFL coaches who started their careers since the 1970 merger. While the former Chargers QB’s style may not be for everyone, the success he has achieved on the sideline convinced the Chargers to revamp their organization to bring him in.

Chargers’ Justin Herbert Undergoes Season-Ending Surgery

Justin Herbert‘s finger injury will end his 2023 campaign. The Chargers quarterback underwent season-ending surgery on Tuesday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The Bolts have since played their franchise QB on IR.

This represents the expected outcome of this situation, with Herbert’s long-term health being weighed against the Chargers’ slim playoff chances. The 25-year-old consulted two hand specialists yesterday to gain additional opinions on the injury suffered to the index finger in his throwing hand in Week 14. It was reported last night that he would likely undergo surgery, a procedure which would determine his recovery timeline.

With Los Angeles sitting at 5-8 on the year and therefore on the outside of the AFC’s wild-card picture, electing to take the surgical route with Herbert makes sense. The former Offensive Rookie of the Year signed a five-year, $262.5MM extension this offseason as one of several young passers to land a mega-deal. Herbert is on the books through 2029 as a result, and the Chargers’ investment in him makes his long-term outlook an obvious priority.

With Herbert out of the picture, Los Angeles will continue to use Easton Stick under center. The former fifth-rounder took over after Herbert suffered the injury in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. He totaled 179 scoreless yards on 13-of-24 passing upon entering the contest, which represented his first regular season action since 2020. The latter appearance saw him attempt just one pass, so he will now take on starting duties with very little in-game experience. Stick has never started an NFL game.

Being shorthanded on offense will hurt the Chargers’ chances of closing out the season on a high note. That, in turn, would likely lessen head coach Brandon Staley‘s chances of being retained in the offseason. The third-year coach has drawn signficant criticism over the course of his tenure, and the Chargers are on track to miss the postseason for the second time over the past three seasons. Shortcomings on both sides of the ball have led many to expect a change will be made on the sidelines soon.

Herbert’s presence would make the Chargers an attractive option to coaching candidates with an offensive background in particular. Ben Johnson – one of the top options in the 2024 hiring cycle – is believed to have a mutual interest in an L.A. agreement. Regardless of what happens on the coaching front, though, the Chargers’ offseason will have Herbert’s recovery as a notable storyline.

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.

QB Notes: Watson, Pickett, Herbert, Cards

After a Week 3 bounce-back effort, Deshaun Watson sat out Week 4 due to a shoulder injury. The Browns endured a 28-3 loss. While Kevin Stefanski said the team is on the same page with its high-priced quarterback medically, the fourth-year HC added (via cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot) Watson was cleared to play against the Ravens.

He knows is body, he’s played through serious pain before, very, very serious injuries,” Stefanski said. “It wasn’t a matter of pain tolerance. He just did not feel like he had his full faculties.”

The 2022 trade acquisition had missed one game due to injury since the ACL tear that ended his 2017 rookie season, being sidelined for a 2019 contest. The Browns, who saw Watson predecessor Baker Mayfield struggle when playing through a shoulder injury in 2021, traded away their Watson backup — Josh Dobbs — just before the regular season, leading to rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson taking the keys.

Here is the latest from the QB landscape:

  • After limping off the field in Houston, Kenny Pickett received good news upon going through an MRI. The second-year Steelers QB did not sustain serious damage to his knee, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac. Pickett sustained a bone bruise and a muscle strain, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, but he has a chance to play this week. With the Steelers’ bye in Week 6, it would make sense for the team to hold its starter out. Mitchell Trubisky, who signed an offseason extension, remains in place as Pickett’s backup. After being usurped by the 2022 first-rounder, Trubisky was needed after Pickett sustained two concussions as a rookie.
  • The Chargers also received fairly good news on their starter. Justin Herbert is not expected to miss time after suffering a finger injury in Week 4. That said, Rapoport notes Herbert did suffer a finger break on his nonthrowing hand. Herbert playing through early-season injuries is, of course, nothing new. The star passer battled rib trouble after a Week 2 injury last year. The Bolts’ franchise centerpiece has never missed a game due to injury.
  • With Kyler Murray not particularly close to returning, Dobbs’ unexpected starter run will continue. The Cardinals pursued Dobbs in free agency, and Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com notes the team made him an offer to rejoin OC Drew Petzing. While Dobbs preferred a Cleveland return, he ended up back with Petzing — the Browns’ QBs coach last season — in Arizona via the “out of the blue” Cards trade offer. Dobbs became Arizona’s surprise starter due partially to the new staff’s concerns about Colt McCoy‘s lack of mobility, per Urban. McCoy, 37, did not impress as the starter during training camp. Murray’s two-year backup, who had signed a two-year deal worth $6MM in 2022, remains a free agent.

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.