Tyrod Taylor

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.

AFC North Notes: Brown, Steelers, Ravens, Tyrod Taylor, Bengals, Dalton, Browns

As we await a resolution to the ongoing Antonio Brown saga with the Steelers, we have a new interesting piece today. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com conducted interviews with “nearly 20 former or current teammates of Brown”, to help figure out what went wrong between Brown and the team. While most that Fowler spoke with seem to acknowledge he’s unlikely to return to Pittsburgh, many spoke up in favor of Brown and said he’s being cast in an unfair light by the media.

Fowler writes that Brown “was — and in many ways still is — beloved in the Steelers’ locker room”, and that the situation is more complex and nuanced than it may appear. Many of Brown’s teammates have publicly lobbied for him to stay, and if the recent rumor is true that the Steelers aren’t getting the kind of trade offers they were hoping for, perhaps they do find a way to make it work after all. For what it’s worth, Steelers owner Art Rooney did adopt a slightly more conciliatory tone in his most recent statements to the press.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Last week a reporter mentioned Tyrod Taylor as a possible target of the Ravens to be Lamar Jackson‘s backup next season, and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh added some fuel to that fire. Harbaugh said today that he’d like to add two quarterbacks behind Jackson this offseason, ideally with a similar playing style, and the recently extended coach brought up Robert Griffin III and Taylor on his own, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). Griffin served as the number three this past year, and said recently he loved his time in Baltimore, so it seems likely he’ll be re-signed.
  • The Bengals are riding with Andy Dalton, for now. Cincinnati’s director of player personnel Duke Tobin spoke recently to reporters and while he expressed some confidence in Dalton, he also left the door open for the team to draft a future replacement, according to Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Dalton has been in that gray area second tier of quarterbacks for a while now, and it’s been speculated that the Bengals could look to move on this offseason with Marvin Lewis finally out the door. Presumptive coach Zac Taylor can’t even join the team until his Rams play in the Super Bowl, and he’ll obviously have a large say in determining Dalton’s fate. Dalton seems safe for 2019, but as Page notes, the team can get out from his contract with no dead money at any time.
  • If you haven’t already read Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com‘s piece on the Browns, you need to now. Wickersham details a shocking level of dysfunction within the organization over the past handful of years since Jimmy Haslam bought the team, and it includes some bombshell details. Among other things, Haslam overruled the entire front office who wanted to hire current Bills coach Sean McDermott in favor of hiring Hue Jackson, and insisted the team take Johnny Manziel over Teddy Bridgewater in the 2014 draft because he didn’t like Bridgewater’s handshake. The article does leave off on a hopeful note, as new GM John Dorsey has been able to ward off most of Haslam’s meddling and cut him out of things, but it will be very interesting to see if Haslam again inserts himself into the process in the crucial coming months.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Bears, Ravens, Chargers

The Cowboys made a big splash today, firing longtime offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Speculation immediately began swirling about who Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett would tap to be his replacement, and Jon Machota of Dallas News is out with a list of potential replacements. Machota writes that Cowboys tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier is “the favorite” for the job, and notes that Garrett has spoken highly of the former Alabama and Florida offensive coordinator. He also lists quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore and receivers coach Sanjay Lal as candidates.

If the Cowboys opt not to promote someone from within, they could be interested in Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley and Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell, who played for the Cowboys from 2003 to 2005. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com tweeted that “it’s hard to imagine that Jerry Jones fired Scott Linehan without knowing in advance precisely who the replacement would be,” so it’s possible we hear very soon who it’ll be.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Bears lost defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, who followed Vic Fangio to Denver to become the Broncos’ new defensive coordinator, and now they have a replacement. The team is hiring Deshea Townsend to be their new defensive backs coach, the team announced in a tweet. Townsend spent last year as an assistant DB’s coach with the Giants.
  • Tyrod Taylor could be a candidate to be Lamar Jackson‘s backup with the Ravens next year, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore will be moving on from Joe Flacco this spring, and Taylor has plenty of connections to the team, who drafted him in the sixth round back in 2011 and gave him his start in the league. Taylor, a free agent this spring after his one year with the Browns ended in him being benched for Baker Mayfield, played for current Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman in Buffalo. Hensley also notes that the team has reached out to Robert Griffin III, who served as the third string quarterback this year behind Jackson and Flacco, about potentially returning in 2019. Both are mobile quarterbacks and could provide continuity in the offense if Jackson were to go down.
  • The Chargers struggled to stop the run all season long and especially in their playoff loss to the Patriots, and Chargers GM Tom Telesco said at his end of year press conference that linebacker will be a priority for them this offseason, according to Sam Fortier of The Athletic. The Chargers suffered a rash of injuries to their linebacking corp this season, with starters Kyzir White, Denzel Perryman, and Jatavis Brown all suffering serious injuries. The Chargers pick 28th in this April’s draft, and very well could target a linebacker with their first pick.

 

Trade Rumors: Carr, Raiders, Peterson, Taylor

We learned earlier this morning that Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has requested a trade, though the team wants to keep him. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Jackson, on his way to the team bus this morning, declined to comment on the report.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says many GMs expect there to be three to five “impactful” deals over the next 48 hours, offers a helpful primer, which includes a list of some of the most-discussed players on the market):

  • Albert Breer of TheMMQB says that the Raiders may not be done dealing just yet, though he does not expect the team to move Derek Carr (indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that the Raiders have told Carr that he is the quarterback of the present and future). However, Oakland is open to moving Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley, though the Raiders are driving a “hard bargain” with teams interested in Conley.
  • Breer names a number of other players whose names we have not heard in recent rumblings but who could nonetheless be on the move: the PackersHa Ha Clinton-Dix, the 49ersPierre Garcon and Jimmie Ward, the CardinalsChandler Jones, and the BroncosShane Ray and Brandon Marshall. Breers adds that San Francisco would need to get something “significant” to deal Ward. He also says that, while teams are certainly interested in Denver corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, he thinks it would be difficult for the team to trade either.
  • If they had elected to trade Patrick Peterson, La Canfora writes that the Cardinals could have received a bounty for him, and may have even landed multiple first-round picks (in fact, several teams were already prepared to offer a first- and second-rounder). JLC reports that Peterson was considered the “crown jewel” of the deadline, and given his attractive contract status, he may be the subject of renewed trade rumors during the offseason.
  • Breer also writes that the Browns are open to trading Tyrod Taylor, whose contract structure could make a deal feasible. Meanwhile, Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that Cleveland GM John Dorsey may be trying to acquire wide receiver help (Twitter link).
  • The Bills remain unlikely to trade LeSean McCoy, per Schefter.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has demonstrated a proclivity for making trades, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says Maccagnan has been doing his due diligence on everyone, including big-name players. But while there is a sense that New York could swing a deal, the fact that the team is in a no-man’s land between buyer and seller, and the fact that the roster does not have many tradeable pieces, could make a trade difficult to pull off.