Tyrod Taylor

Peter King’s Latest On 2020 NFL Draft

While Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah is widely viewed as the top defensive back in the 2020 draft class, at least one general manager thinks a portion of NFL decision-makers may have a different view. “I bet 40% of the teams in the league have C.J. Henderson higher on their boards than Okudah,” the anonymous GM told Peter King of NBC Sports. “Better cover guy.” Henderson, a Florida product with 30 total games and a 2019 All-SEC nod under his belt, is pegged as a first-round pick, but it would certainly be a surprise if he came off the board before Okudah, who is thought to be a potential top-five selection.

Let’s take a look at a few more draft tidbits from King’s latest column:

  • The Chargers‘ quarterback situation continues to a conundrum. While a source close to Los Angeles GM Tom Telesco tells King Telesco is high on Oregon signal-caller Justin Herbert, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has faith in incumbent Tyrod Taylor. In fact, Lynn might be comfortable starting Taylor even beyond the 2020 season.
  • While the Chargers may target a quarterback in the first round, don’t expect the Jaguars to go after a passer with the ninth overall pick, per King. Jacksonville intends to give 2019 sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew a legitimate shot at becoming a full-time NFL starter after trading veteran Nick Foles to the Bears earlier this month.
  • Although the 49ers are already loaded along their defensive line (even after trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts), they could still target even more front four help in the first round. Specifically, San Francisco could be eyeing a defensive tackle such as South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw. The 49ers own both the 13th and 31st picks on Day 1 of the draft, leaving them ample opportunities to address nee areas.
  • The Cowboys may look to find a replacement for All-Pro center Travis Frederick after he announced his retirement earlier this year, but at least one rival executive tells King that Dallas won’t spend the 17th pick on a pivot. However, that same executive believes the Cowboys are fans of Michigan interior lineman Cesar Ruiz, and could trade down before selecting the ex-Wolverine.
  • One NFL GM tells King the Patriots “love” Herbert, but may not be infatuated enough to trade up from pick No. 23. Indeed, New England would likely need to sacrifice a 2021 first-round pick in order to move into Herbert range.

Latest On Chargers’ Mike Pouncey, QB Situation

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn spoke at length with reporters yesterday, and two of the most significant topics he covered were the team’s quarterback situation and center Mike Pouncey‘s status.

Pouncey, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Dolphins, was released by Miami in March 2018 and quickly caught on with the Chargers. The pickup proved to be a savvy one for the Bolts, as Pouncey rewarded the team with a Pro Bowl performance and agreed to a one-year extension prior to the 2019 campaign that kept him under club control through 2020.

Unfortunately, the 2019 season did not go as planned for Pouncey or the Chargers. Pouncey landed on IR with a neck injury that required surgery, and as Lynn observed, the 30-year-old pivot has not yet been cleared for football activities (Twitter link via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times). However, Lynn does expect Pouncey to be cleared by the time players reconvene — whenever that is — and he suggested that he is comfortable with the club’s other options in the event Pouncey is not ready to go. Dan Feeney, currently penciled in at left guard, and 2018 fifth-rounder Scott Quessenberry combined to fill the void left by Pouncey, but neither player performed particularly well in that role.

As for the team’s QB situation, Lynn confirmed that Tyrod Taylor is the team’s starter for now, as Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com writes. That is not at all surprising given that the only other signal-caller currently on the roster is 2019 fifth-rounder Easton Stick, but Lynn did create a little intrigue. Per Thiry, Lynn was asked specifically about the Chargers’ interest in Cam Newton, and after initially avoiding a similar question, Lynn said, “[w]e’re looking at everybody. I want to turn over every single rock, so yeah, we’re looking at everybody.”

More likely than not, that statement is basic coach-speak. After all, we heard just a couple of weeks ago that the Chargers have no intention of acquiring another veteran QB to compete with Taylor, and it seems more plausible that the club will select a QB with the No. 6 overall pick and roll into the 2020 season with Taylor and the rookie passer at the top of the depth chart. On the other hand, Los Angeles is built to win now, and its offseason moves were clearly made with an eye towards competing in 2020. If healthy, Newton is a dramatic upgrade over Taylor — whose release would free up $5MM of cap space — so it stands to reason that Lynn would at least consider that option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bolts Not Expected To Acquire Veteran QB

Finishing as the Tom Brady silver or bronze medalists — depending on how close the Patriots came in that pursuit — the Chargers may be moving in a different direction. It may have been Brady-or-bust regarding Los Angeles’ interest in adding a veteran quarterback.

The Bolts are not expected to sign or trade for a veteran quarterback, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. As of now, they are moving forward with Tyrod Taylor.

This points to the team being prepared to use its No. 6 overall pick on a quarterback or trade up for one. The Chargers have not selected a first-round quarterback since Eli Manning 16 years ago. The team announced early in the offseason it was moving on from 38-year-old Philip Rivers, its starter since 2006. That leaves Taylor, whom the Bolts signed last offseason.

Taylor being a bridge passer would not be a new role for the veteran. The 30-year-old quarterback served in this role with the Browns in 2018, coming over in a trade prior to Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield pick. The Chargers have been linked to Justin Herbert at No. 6, and Utah State’s Jordan Love could factor into this equation. Teams’ quarterback pursuits will be more difficult to pin down. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL banned pre-draft visits this year.

Latest On Chargers’ QB Situation

The Chargers recently indicated they will not be re-signing Philip Rivers, and they have been heavily connected to free agent-to-be Tom Brady. But while it may not be the splashiest move, it sounds as if the Bolts may simply roll with Tyrod Taylor as their starter in 2020.

Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), the Chargers are comfortable with Taylor as a bridge option to a rookie signal-caller. The team is armed with the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, and they could have a few promising prospects fall to them if they don’t elect to trade up. Indeed, the Chargers are said to be high on Utah State QB Jordan Love, who will most likely still be available when LA is on the clock.

Taylor, who will turn 31 in August, is a capable passer who generally takes care of the football and who can make plays with his legs. Given the overall talent on the Chargers’ roster, that might be all they need to get back into the playoffs in 2020. Taylor’s leadership and experience would also be beneficial to a young QB, and head coach Anthony Lynn is very high on him.

“Tyrod Taylor is a heck of a quarterback,” Lynn recently said in a radio interview (h/t Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com). “We couldn’t have a better backup right now, and now he has an opportunity to maybe step up into a starting role.”

Taylor is under contract through 2020, though the Chargers could part ways with him and save $5MM of cap space by doing so. Speculatively, the Chargers could pursue Brady, and if they land him, they can cut Taylor and still select the quarterback of the future in the draft. If they can’t get Brady, than Taylor is still a serviceable fallback option and may be just as good as the other signal-callers that might be available on the free agent or trade markets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Notes: Rivers, Tannehill, Jags, Winston

Philip Rivers‘ disappointing season has led to speculation the Chargers will seek an upgrade in free agency or the draft. But GM Tom Telesco said (via Daniel Popper of The Athletic, on Twitter) this week he still believes the 38-year-old quarterback can compete at a “top-starter level.” Rivers has bounced back from down seasons before, even winning 2013’s comeback player of the year award after merely coming back from a rough 2012 slate. But the free agent-to-be is much closer to the end of his career and has acknowledged Week 17 may have been his final Bolts game. The Chargers aim to get the Rivers situation sorted out before the 2020 league year begins March 18, Telesco adds (Twitter link). Tyrod Taylor is still under contract, and while Telesco called the ex-Bills starter a capable first-stringer (Twitter link via ESPN’s Eric Williams), promoting the 30-year-old veteran would not be viewed as an upgrade.

Here is the latest from the quarterback landscape:

  • A franchise tag may be in the cards for Ryan Tannehill, but the Titans are convinced his change-of-scenery breakout is legit. The Titans believe the 31-year-old passer is a “huge part of their future” and want to sign him to a long-term extension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The prospect of a Tannehill re-up initially surfaced in late November, and the sides have begun negotiations. It would cost Tennessee approximately $27MM to use its franchise tag on Tannehill. With Derrick Henry and right tackle Jack Conklin also up for free agency, it would behoove the Titans to have Tannehill locked down before the March 10 deadline. Of course, Tannehill’s Dolphins history makes such a commitment risky.
  • The Jaguars will not commit to Gardner Minshew as their clear-cut starter going into the offseason. Doug Marrone said Minshew and Nick Foles will compete for the job, per John Reid of the Florida Times-Union. The Jags gave Foles $50MM guaranteed in 2018; his 2020 salary is fully guaranteed.
  • Jameis Winston may have been playing through a more significant thumb injury than initially believed. The Buccaneers quarterback is now wearing a cast, per Rapoport (on Twitter). Winston threw his usual variety of interceptions before the thumb injury surfaced but tossed four in Week 16 against the Texans after being on the Bucs’ injury report with the malady. The soon-to-be 26-year-old passer will be a free agent in March.

Chargers Could Bench Philip Rivers

The 4-7 Chargers likely have to win out in order to have a shot at the playoffs, and for the first time since quarterback Philip Rivers entered the league in 2004, Rivers may not give the Bolts the best chance to win. As such, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears that Rivers could be pulled from Sunday’s game against the Broncos if he continues to struggle.

Rapoport says that head coach Anthony Lynn will not have a quick hook, but if Rivers performs as badly on Sunday as he has over the past two weeks — he has thrown a whopping seven interceptions and has fumbled twice during LA’s two-game skid — Lynn could yank Rivers in favor of veteran backup Tyrod Taylor.

It’s a move that Lynn obviously does not want to make, but he may not have a choice. Rivers, who will turn 38 next week, has struggled with interceptions a bit throughout his career, but he is currently not doing enough to offset those turnovers. Rivers and Lynn have spoken several times since the team’s crushing loss to the Chiefs in Week 11, and Rivers knows he must play better.

On the other hand, Lynn does not want the eight-time Pro Bowler looking over his shoulder and playing without the same carefree style that has made him so successful in the past. With respect to pulling Rivers, Lynn said, “I don’t plan on having to make that decision…Most great athletes, they respond well. I believe Philip is going to respond well.”

Taylor, a three-year starter for the Bills from 2015-17, has shown the ability to take care of the football, and he can also make plays with his legs, which Rivers cannot do. Taylor signed a two-year, $11MM pact with the Chargers in March, so if Los Angeles should decide to move on from Rivers this offseason — which is looking increasing likely – Taylor may have a shot to serve as the team’s starter in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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:

Contract Details: Taylor, Wright, Harris, Lutz

Some assorted contract details from the around the NFL:

Chargers To Sign Tyrod Taylor

The Chargers have agreed to terms with quarterback Tyrod Taylor on a two-year deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Dolphins were intently interested in signing Taylor, but they’ll have to refocus their efforts on a different QB.

Taylor, 30 in August, began the season as the Browns’ starter. However, he ceded the gig early in the year when an injury took him out of a fall matchup with the Jets. Baker Mayfield entered the game and engineered a comeback, and the rest was history.

In a characteristically weak market for QBs, Taylor profiled as one of the best options out there. The Dolphins, with serious questions under center, saw Taylor as a possible replacement for Ryan Tannehill. Instead, the Chargers have scooped him up to serve as Philip Rivers‘ understudy.

During his 2015 Pro Bowl campaign, Taylor averaged 8.0 yards per pass, threw 20 touchdown passes, six interceptions and ran for 568 yards. All in all, he owns a career 23-21-1 record as a starter. Taylor is historically safe with the football: among quarterbacks with at least 1,000 attempts since 2015, Taylor ranks third in interception percentage.

Taylor will only be 30 years old when the 2019 campaign gets underway, so there’s a possibility he could become a long term answer in Los Angeles if Rivers retires in the near future. More likely, though, he’ll serve as a rarely-used backup, as Rivers has never missed a game since becoming the Chargers’ starter in 2006.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Interested In Tyrod Taylor

The Dolphins are rumored to be targeting Tyrod Taylor to serve as a stopgap signal-caller after the expected release of Ryan Tannehill, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. That is in keeping with a report from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who writes that Miami is expected to show interest in Taylor, and potentially one or two other free agent QBs.

The entire piece from Jackson is worth a read for Miami fans in need of some optimism, as he observes that the Dolphins are well-positioned to have $120MM of cap space in 2020. So, if Miami can land a franchise-caliber QB by the end of 2020 draft — a big “if,” to be sure — then the club will have plenty of flexibility to augment the roster in free agency and accelerate its rebuild.

In the meantime, new head coach Brian Flores understands that there may be some short-term pain. But Jackson writes that Flores does not want his team to completely tank, so a veteran QB that can at least keep the team somewhat competitive is definitely in the cards.

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com says the Ravens and Panthers are also obvious suitors for Taylor, so Miami may have some competition for him. As for Tannehill, Graziano suggests that he could reunite with Adam Gase, now the Jets‘ head coach, as Sam Darnold‘s backup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.