Justin Herbert has had the best two-year start to a career that any quarterback in NFL history has had. However, the LA Chargers have been unable to make the playoffs with Herbert while his draft-class mate, Joe Burrow, is currently representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. This has tilted the mainstream NFL opinion in favor of Burrow, and while Herbert has been better, it is hard to argue with Burrow making the Super Bowl.
Burrow has been really good but he has also gotten a lot more help from the Bengals than Justin Herbert has gotten from the Chargers. Cincinnati's defense has really stepped up this postseason, allowing an average of fewer than 20 points per game. Burrow has not played his best football but he has been good enough to make the Super Bowl.
This should serve as a lesson to Tom Telesco and the LA Chargers. The Bengals had a lot of cap space last offseason like the Chargers do this offseason, and the Bolts should take that as a lesson and attempt to emulate what the Bengals did. Not only do the Bengals serve as inspiration to the Chargers but they also continue to completely prove Tom Telesco wrong.
Joe Burrow is proving that Chargers GM Tom Telesco is wrong about rookie quarterback contract Super Bowl windows.
In a press conference with the media last month, Tom Telesco claimed that he does not believe in rookie quarterback contract Super Bowl windows. For those unfamiliar, it is widely accepted throughout the league that if you can have an elite quarterback on a rookie contract (thus opening up space to spend elsewhere) then you have a significant advantage in competing for a Super Bowl.
The Chargers are in that exact situation right now with Herbert and it is a bit disheartening to hear that Telesco does not believe it is a thing. Hopefully, it was nothing more than GM talk because the Bengals are continuing to prove the notion true and prove that teams must spend when they are afforded this luxury.
Burrow and the Bengals have made the Super Bowl because they have a top-10 quarterback who has gotten a lot of help from his defense in the postseason. This just continues the trend of teams making a Super Bowl run with a quarterback on a rookie contract and it is quite absurd that Telesco still dismisses the notion.
Before Joe Burrow it was Patrick Mahomes, who had a combined cap hit of $12.7 million over his two Super Bowl appearances. Before Patrick Mahomes it was Jared Goff. Goff obviously is not a top-10 quarterback but he played good enough with the Los Angeles Rams to lead them to a Super Bowl and his contract allowed them to spend elsewhere.
Before Jared Goff and the Rams it was Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Granted, Nick Foles led the team in the playoffs but the Eagles had so much talent because Wentz was on his rookie deal (and was playing at an MVP level). 2016 and 2017 broke the trend but before that we saw Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl twice... playing on his rookie contract.
Seven of the last 10 Super Bowl included quarterbacks on their rookie contracts. The only three matchups that did not include this included either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. The latter notoriously took pay cuts in his career so his teams would have more space to spend elsewhere.
There is absolutely such a thing as a rookie quarterback contract window. If the LA Chargers are going to reach the ultimate goal, Tom Telesco must realize that.