QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers agree to 5-year, $262.5 million extension

2MA9C14 Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws the ball during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)

Justin Herbert is the latest domino to fall in the quarterback extension market, agreeing with the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday to a five-year extension worth $262.5 million. The deal resets the quarterback market, as expected, after the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with Jalen Hurts (five years, $255 million) and the Baltimore Ravens inked Lamar Jackson to a new deal (five years, $260 million) in April.

Here's what PFF salary cap analyst Brad Spielberger and others have had to say this offseason about Herbert and his looming contract extension.

Projecting early extensions for the 2020 quarterback class — Brad Spielberger (April 5)

While most of the narratives people tie to contracts are silly — and are largely ignored by NFL teams — Herbert got over the proverbial hump and led the Chargers back to the playoffs in 2022 for the first time in his career. The team went on to have a truly epic collapse, which wasn’t exactly Herbert’s fault, and we’ve seen plenty of heroic displays of the young phenom putting the team on his back in big moments.

Herbert dealt with injuries to his teammates and himself throughout the year and still put up a 77.5 passing grade that ranked eighth among quarterbacks. Since 2020, Herbert’s 89.7 overall grade ranks seventh among quarterbacks and his 9.62 wins above replacement ranks sixth.

Contract prediction: Four years, $208 million ($52 million per year), $180 million total guaranteed at signing

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Too safe with the football? Why the Los Angeles Chargers need Justin Herbert to be more aggressive — Dalton Wasserman (July 6)

The Chargers created the eighth-most explosive plays in the passing game in the NFL last season but did so inefficiently, especially when throwing the deep ball.

Los Angeles Chargers: PFF metrics on 20-plus-yard throws
Metric Total Rank (out of 32)
Passing grade 83.2 17th
EPA/play 0.246 20th
Positive EPA% 36.1% 25th
Yards per attempt 10.9 22nd

There is no reason a team with Justin Herbert should be this inefficient when it comes to generating explosive plays. Former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi deserves a ton of credit for Herbert’s development, but Herbert’s recent numbers are similar to a late-career Drew Brees, whom Lombardi coached previously in New Orleans.

Herbert’s arm strength alone should instill fear in opposing defenses. Unlocking a vertical element to this offense should be of the utmost priority to new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Moore’s offense in Dallas finished fourth in the NFL last season in EPA per play on deep passes despite Dak Prescott’s struggles and Cooper Rush‘s presence in Prescott's absence.

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Three players to build around for every AFC team — Brad Spielberger (July 12)

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers face a lot of pressure entering 2023 in what could be the final year for wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams along with edge defender Khalil Mack, and they’ll have to retool the roster around Justin Herbert’s monster extension. Allen, Williams and Mack have a combined cap hit of $105 million in 2024, so while they all should have high expectations in 2023, they may not be long-term building blocks. A healthy Rashawn Slater at left tackle could go a long way in working through an offensive overhaul.

Joey Bosa missed some time in 2022 but earned his fourth straight pass-rush grade of 88.0 or better and should still be viewed as a franchise cornerstone to build around.

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Captain Checkdown: The quarterbacks who most and least rely on checkdown passes — Lauren Gray (June 5)

Herbert takes time to let plays develop (averages 2.70 seconds to throw), yet he also leads the league in checkdown attempts since 2020 (172). But when Austin Ekeler is your main checkdown target, those numbers make sense.

Ekeler has recorded 82 targets and 554 yards on checkdowns since 2020. He also has 25 first downs during that span, leading in three key checkdown categories. Ekeler has 3,435 career receiving yards (third) and leads running backs in receiving touchdowns (29) since 2017. He is one of the best underneath options in the NFL.

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