It is common knowledge in the league these days that young quarterbacks are the ultimate coveted prize. Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Herbert are widely regarded as some of the top QBs today and they all have one specific thing in common: they’re all under the age of 27. Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray, Mac Jones, Justin Fields, and Trevor Lawrence also share this trait but are in the media less often given that their teams have not garnered as much attention; Justin Herbert may soon fall into this category.
Coming out of Eugene, Oregon, playing for the hometown Oregon Ducks, the Los Angeles Chargers selected Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick of the 2020 draft. The rookie was originally named the Chargers’ backup QB, behind Tyrod Taylor, but quickly found his place during his first NFL start in week 2 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Herbert made a big statement by becoming the third player in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards and rush for a touchdown in his first career game, even though the Bolts took a 23-20 defeat in overtime. For the rest of the season, Herbert cemented his role as the new QB and hopefully the newest franchise QB of the Chargers since Philip Rivers left the season prior. He finished the season breaking and setting multiple records including becoming the first rookie to throw four touchdown passes on Monday Night Football, becoming the first rookie QB with multiple touchdowns in seven consecutive games, becoming the fourth rookie QB to reach 4,000 passing yards, and also breaking the record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie with 31.
The 2021 season was even more successful for the 2020 Rookie of the Year as he started his second season with a victory over division rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs. During the season, Herbert earned the title of AFC Offensive Player of the Week three times, and for good reason. In his second meeting with the Chiefs that season, Herbert passed Andrew Luck’s record for the most passing yards in a QB’s first two seasons and Dan Marino’s record for most total touchdowns in a QB’s first two seasons. Although Herbert would finish the season recording franchise records for passing yards (5,014) and passing touchdowns (38), the way LA finished their season is something that stuck with all football fans.
To end their 2021 season, the Chargers lost 35-32 in overtime to the Las Vegas Raiders, ending their playoff hopes. To continue, the least they would have needed was a tie, but they lost on a walk-off field goal. Justin Herbert was even spotted by cameras on the sidelines saying “I’ve never wanted a tie so bad.” Unfortunately, this would not be the last time the Chargers lost playoff hopes after a walk-off field goal. During the 2022 season, Herbert led the Bolts back to the Wild Card Round against the Jacksonville Jaguars, setting two more single season franchise records for pass attempts (699) and completions (477) in the process. The Chargers went up quick, having a 27-0 lead over the Jags at one point, but fell 31-30 on another walk-off field goal.
Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times
Following their second early playoff defeat in two years, the team fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day, but head coach Brandon Staley stayed put. In addition to those changes, the LA front office is also interested in extending Herbert’s contract. Herbert will be entering the fourth season of his five year rookie contract, and became eligible to sign an extension at the end of the 2022 season.
Throughout the offseason, we have seen many contracts make headlines but none as big as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson. Jalen Hurts signed a five year, $255 million extension with the 2022 NFC Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, which made him the highest paid NFL player until Ravens QB Lamar Jackson penned his five-year, $260 million extension. Many fans and analysts believe that these extensions should give us an idea of what might come for Herbert. However, Chargers GM Tom Telesco said he doesn't view these contracts as being a “precise blueprint” for Herbert’s contract. That comment is leaving many to wonder what kind of extension we will see Herbert sign and if it will live up to the success he has already created, or will it reflect the disappointment Chargers fans have lived through the past two postseasons?