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Choosing the perfect quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers

Jesse Reed
Jordan Love, Chargers
© Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers are wading into uncharted waters after saying goodbye to Philip Rivers this offseason and need to get it right when they choose their next quarterback.

So, what are their best options? That’s what we’re diving into here today.

The current situation: The Chargers have one of the NFL’s best backups in Tyrod Taylor on the roster right now, and they have the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

  • The Chargers have already thrown support behind Taylor, saying he’ll have a chance to compete for the starting job.
  • When given a chance to start previously, Taylor has played well and has the stats to prove it: 9,562 passing yards with 54 touchdowns and just 20 interceptions.
  • He has a winning record as a starter in Buffalo and Cleveland (23-21-1).

Standing pat: Let’s say the Chargers don’t go after Tom Brady like many have suggested could happen. Let’s say they are content to roll with Taylor as the bridge, and that they don’t attempt a trade up from No. 6 in the draft. If all that happens, then here are the two quarterbacks who make the most sense in that draft slot as they attempt to land the quarterback of the future.

  • Justin Herbert (Oregon): A big, strong-armed kid who can make some rare throws into tight spots (like this), Herbert certainly passes the eyeball test. In four seasons with the Ducks, he consistently showed good judgement, passing for 95 touchdowns and just 24 interceptions.
  • Jordan Love (Utah State): Of all the quarterbacks set to enter the draft, Love is the one who draws Patrick Mahomes comparisons. This raw, dual-threat quarterback certainly is a tantalizing prospect, which is why we recently mocked him to the Chargers at No. 6. With Taylor on the roster, Love wouldn’t need to start right away and could potentially have the same type of career trajectory as the reigning MVP.

Of these two options, I’m leaning toward Love as the better long-term prospect. Mainly because Herbert has a rocket for an arm, but when it comes to consistent accuracy he could struggle at the NFL level.

Movin’ on up: What if the Chargers are enamored with one of the two consensus top quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft?

  • Joe Burrow (LSU): Everyone expects the Cincinnati Bengals to select Burrow atop the draft. Moving up to No. 1 would be far too costly for the Chargers, in my opinion, so this isn’t an option.
  • Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama): It will cost nearly as much to move up to No. 2 overall to land Tua as it would to move up to the top of the draft. Given Tagovailoa’s injury history, this also seems like a bad play.

So, while both of these quarterbacks are more polished, pro-ready prospects, it makes no sense for the Chargers to sell the farm to land one of them.

Free as a bird: Free agency certainly is an option for the Chargers as they look to win now, plus build for the future. And of course, this year’s class of free-agent quarterbacks is incredible.

Here’s a look at the free agents who could be on the Chargers’ radar.

  • Tom Brady could be a short-term solution. He just started a production company in Hollywood, and he’s a California kid. The Chargers have weapons on offense, and their defense is very, very good.
  • Ryan Tannehill is an intriguing option, as he could be viewed as a long-term solution. There is an expectation that he’ll re-sign with the Tennessee Titans, but he’s said that it will be exciting to see what free agency brings.
  • Jameis Winston paired up with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams would certainly lead to a ton of huge plays. Though, this 26-year-old former first-overall pick is the NFL’s turnover king. The Chargers would likely rather stick with Tyrod Taylor.
  • Teddy Bridgewater is interesting, considering he’s still relatively young at the age of 27, and that he played pretty darn well last year for the New Orleans Saints when Drew Brees was injured. He would also likely be a reasonably-priced option.
  • Marcus Mariota, at this point in his career, has to be viewed as a backup with the potential to push for a starting job. Again, the Chargers already have one of those guys on the roster, so it doesn’t make a ton of sense for him to land in Los Angeles.

Obviously, Brady is the main attraction here, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he ultimately does choose to sign with the Chargers.

The verdict: If I were running the show, the Chargers would go hard after Tom Brady. With an offense that is ready to win now and a defense that has championship-caliber traits, adding a proven winner and leader of his caliber would allow the Chargers to win now, yet still draft the quarterback of the future.

As for that, the guy that I’d target is Jordan Love. He’s very raw, but then again so is Herbert. And when dreaming of the future, Love just looks like he’ll have the higher ceiling.

If the Chargers were able to make this combo happen in 2020, they’d be in great shape, both for the now and for the future.