Now that free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft are behind us, the biggest storyline surrounding the LA Chargers is Justin Herbert's contract extension. Herbert is extension-eligible this offseason and while a deal does not have to get done this summer, it would benefit all parties if it was.
Herbert is not alone as this offseason will represent an establishment of the quarterback market. Jalen Hurts signed a five-year extension with the Philadelphia Eagles that was shortly followed by a similar contract for Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. In typical NFL fashion, Lamar reset the market once more with a $52 million average salary, $1 million higher than Hurts.
Herbert and Joe Burrow are the two quarterbacks left standing with each player continuing to reset the market. If Burrow signs first, it has been assumed that Herbert will get a deal that is ever-so-slightly more than Burrow's just so he too can reset the market.
However, those assumptions might not be true. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco recently spoke about Herbert's upcoming extension and shut down the idea that the Hurts and Jackson contracts are influencing a Herbert deal.
"'Any time there is a contract signed at that position it's going to come up in conversation,' Telesco said. 'I wouldn't say there is any quarterback contract out there that is a blueprint -- I wouldn't say that at all. But like anything else, there'll be contracts that'll be talked about, and we'll cherry-pick some things out of that contract we like. The agent will cherry-pick some things out of that contract that he likes. But in the end, we'll get to a compromise at some point. Something that works for everybody.'"
Tom Telesco's comments on Justin Herbert's extension spell a dream scenario for the Chargers
This one remark from Telesco opens the door for the Chargers to potentially sign Herbert to a different type of extension this offseason; one that would be far more team-friendly than these other deals and would be a dream scenario.
Of course, that is not a guarantee as Herbert's representation is going to pound the table for him to get the most money possible. But if Herbert is simply interested in being a Charger for the rest of his life then the two sides could agree to a deal that is much more similar to Patrick Mahomes' deal.
That would be the dream scenario for the Chargers. Instead of signing Herbert to a five-year deal that pays him $54 million per year, the team would be far better off signing him to a 10-year deal with the same salary. That would ensure that Herbert is locked up long-term and would give the team a discount towards the end of that contract.
By the time the Chargers get to the tail-end of that deal the quarterback market will continue to grow and will be even higher. By that time, the going price for a franchise quarterback might be in the $65-70 million range. At $54 million, the Chargers would be getting a discount compared to the market.
That is why logistically it is better for the player to sign a five-year deal. Herbert would be getting top-market value now and the would cash in on the new market value six years down the road. That is the best way to maximize his earnings.
But it looks like Herbert and the Chargers could potentially be on their way to breaking the mold at the QB position. That would be a massive win for the franchise and the fans.