LA Chargers: Justin Herbert’s perfect backup is now available


The LA Chargers have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, so they are just one of a handful of NFL teams this offseason that are not worried about the quarterback position. Well, the starting quarterback position, that is.

Veteran Tyrod Taylor is a free agent this offseason and with no path to starting in LA, plus the situation with his punctured lung in Week 2, I do not think we should be banking on him returning.

Taylor certainly could return, but as a former Pro Bowler who is one of the best backups in the league, he is going to cost a premium. While a premium backup quarterback still is not all that expensive, with Hunter Henry’s extension and other pressing roster needs, the Bolts do not really have the luxury of spending high on a backup quarterback.

The backup quarterback is important with a young quarterback like Herbert, especially with a head coaching change. We may not see it, but the impact that a veteran can have on a young quarterback like Herbert is massive.

That is why earlier this offseason I picked the best potential (and realistic) backup quarterbacks for the LA Chargers to pursue. Not on the list was someone who would be perfect for the LA Chargers, who is going to become available in the coming days.

Alex Smith is the LA Chargers’ perfect option to be Justin Herbert’s backup

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Alex Smith and the Washington Football Team are expected to part ways in the coming days on Monday morning. This is coming after Smith won Comeback Player of the Year for his return in 2020.

I am not the only one here at Bolt Beat that feels this way about Smith. Our own Steven Haglund has a very similar sentiment.

You wanna talk about an ideal backup for Justin Herbert…

— Steven Haglund (@StevenIHaglund) March 1, 2021

So why is Smith perfect? First, let’s talk about the financials, as the LA Chargers still can’t really pay over $5 million for a backup quarterback again.

Smith is more than likely going to be cheaper than that. Yes, he is one of the bigger names in the league and is coming off a tremendous story, but I am hard-pressed to believe that he will get that kind of money with his injury history. As unfortunate as it is, with most teams in a cap bind, they won’t want to take that risk.

Second, it is not like he is going to be tasked to be a starter in 2021. Perhaps if there was a tanking team that wanted to bring him in for one year just to have someone to sell tickets then I could see it happening, but I highly doubt it.

He is likely going to be a backup in 2021.

Smith has worked with several great young quarterbacks in the past and can carry that wisdom with him to Justin Herbert. Patrick Mahomes sat behind Smith for a season, calling his former mentor a ‘special human being’.

Colin Kaepernick sat behind Smith for a season before taking over for an injured Smith and leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl. Dwayne Haskins may not have worked out in Washington, but to be fair, Smith was not around the team as he normally would be in 2019 because of his leg injuries.

Smith is a consummate professional and one that has been a part of several special NFL teams and played for several great NFL coaches. He knows what it takes to win in this league and what it means to be a mentor to a young quarterback. That is exactly what the LA Chargers need for Justin Herbert.

Plus, the Chargers could feel confident in Smith in the case of emergency and he has to play. While the numbers were not always all-that impressive, the Washington Football Team would not have made the NFL Playoffs without Smith. His leadership on that offensive unit was huge and allowed them to play good enough to win games with that stacked defense.

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They went 5-1 in games he started and 2-7 in games he did not start. The proof is in the pudding.