The Los Angeles Chargers found a stud quarterback in Justin Herbert back in the 2020 NFL Draft, which means the time to pay up is nearing.
General manager Tom Telesco welcomes that eventuality.
“There’s a lot that will go into it, obviously, with these type of contracts and the numbers that it’s gonna be, but it’s just a good problem to have,” Telesco said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “You have a franchise quarterback that’s now moving into a franchise veteran quarterback. There’s a lot of good things that come with that.”
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With three seasons under his belt, the 2023 offseason marks the first time Herbert is eligible for an extension — one that is sure to at least quadruple the current bargain he’s playing under. His 2023 cap number of $8.45 million falls just under the Commanders’ likely backup quarterback, Jacoby Brissett.
Like his fellow 2020 first-round QBs, Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, the latter of whom already had his picked up, Herbert is also eligible for a fifth-year option.
If and when the Chargers exercise it, Herbert’s cap hit in Year 5 would jump to $29.5 million, but they’d be wise to ink him to a full-on extension sooner rather than later. His next contract has the potential to top the quarterback market, which currently has eight QBs slated to have a $40 million-plus cap hit in 2024, a number that could swell as contemporaries like Burrow also agree to extensions.
And the more big-time quarterbacks agree to contracts ahead of him, the more chances Herbert has to target a new, higher starting point for negotiations.
As Telesco mentioned, there’s some hefty numbers and considerations to juggle, but Herbert has been everything the Chargers could want since they selected him as a replacement for longtime QB Philip Rivers. He shot out of the gates, setting single-season rookie records with 396 completions and 31 touchdowns, and his 4,336 passing yards came just 38 yards shy of eclipsing Andrew Luck’s rookie record.
He made the Pro Bowl the following year after elevating his stat line to 443 completions for 5,014 yards and 38 touchdowns, but the playoffs again eluded the Chargers.
Herbert rectified that in his third season by leading Los Angeles to a wild-card berth at 10-7, the club’s first postseason trip since 2018 and just its second year with double-digit wins since 2010.
Although that story ended on an inexplicably sour note when the Chargers wilted, losing to the Jaguars after a 27-point collapse, Herbert has displayed an endless reservoir of talent capable of redeeming L.A. and then some in the years to come.
The 25-year-old’s price tag while doing so will vastly change the cash flow available at other positions, but that’s the cost of doing business and chasing a Super Bowl with one of the league’s elite quarterbacks.
“The flip side is, we’ll build the team a little bit differently,” Telesco said. “We’ll transition through that the next couple years. But I’m not losing a lot of sleep over it. Yeah, I know the numbers are gonna be big. He’s earned it. We think we can win a Super Bowl with him. So, that’s a good problem to have. We’ll get it done at some point, and then we’ll go from there.”
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