By Eric Smith, Chargers.com
The Chargers announced Tuesday that they have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract extension with Justin Herbert, a move that keep the Bolts franchise quarterback (and face of the organization) in powder blue for years to come.
There was never any question this would get done. It was only a matter of when, not if, the Chargers would lock up Herbert.
The deal comes on the eve of training camp, meaning Herbert (happily) doesn’t have to answer any looming questions about this topic.
Even though Herbert made it clear in mid-June that he was going to participate in camp even without a finalized deal.
“That would put you quite into the deficit,” Herbert said. “I think we’ve done a great job of picking up the offense and doing exactly what [Chargers Offensive Coordinator] Kellen [Moore] has asked of us.
“When it comes time for camp, the role of the quarterback is to be out there for his team and do everything that he can to put that team in a position to win,” Herbert added. “I understand that responsibility. It’s something that you’ll address when the time comes, but I guess we’ll see.”
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said he had zero concerns with his star quarterback.
“I know that Justin is going to be ready to go and this team is ready to take off,” Staley said. “I’m just excited to get to training camp and put the work in.”
That new pact between the Chargers and Herbert is now complete, and it’s one that the quarterback surely earned over his first three seasons in the NFL.
Good luck finding a quarterback in NFL history who put up the numbers Herbert has through three seasons.
He ranks first in completions (1,316), passing yards (14,089), combined touchdowns (102) and 300-yard games (22) over the first three seasons of a career. His 94 passing touchdowns, by the way, are the second-most ever in that span.
Herbert is also the only player in history to top 4,000 passing yards in each of his first three seasons, and is one of just two players to begin a career with three consecutive seasons of 25-plus touchdown passes.
So, yeah, Herbert certainly earned this new contract in more ways than one.
But the biggest takeaway I have about this new deal is that it ensures the Chargers have set themselves up for sustained success for the long run.
It is hard to find a franchise quarterback in this league. Some teams search for years, or even decades, trying to find the guy that will lead the team in the huddle, in the locker room and in the community.
Herbert has done all of that, and more, early on in powder blue. And he will now be viewed as the biggest piece to the Bolts as they try to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Yes, Herbert will be asked to take on more as the Chargers navigate around his contract amount in the coming years.
Yet for those who have been around Herbert for multiple years, they know exactly who the Bolts have under center.
Corey Linsley raved about Herbert’s leadership and dedication in January.
“Just being himself, getting more comfortable, everything,” Linsley said. “When I say, ‘being himself,’ it’s being consistent. He’s the same person.
“He’s committed to this team and that’s huge. He’s the least ego statistical person I’ve ever met, it’s incredible,” Linsley added. “He cares about what’s important, not all of the flash, which brings us all closer and makes us want to work even harder for him.”
And Staley said that Herbert is only scratching the surface to what he can accomplish, noting how impressive his 2022 season was despite chaos around him.
“It really brought out the best in him as a player, in terms of the challenges, from an injury standpoint, both upfront and at his skill positions,” Staley said. “I thought you were really able to discover a lot of the intangibles that make him so special. For his first two years, I think people talk about the tangible — what they can see, the output or production or the style of some of these throws that he can make — but what he really showed were the intangibles that, I think, make him one of the top players in the NFL.
“Him being able to lead our offense, to kind of will us down the stretch to a playoff appearance, I think show you all the growth that he has,” Staley added. “He’s just continuing to grow as a player and as a leader on this football team.”
Even those who have watched Herbert from afar — including Moore and Chargers quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier — have come away impressed after a short time with him.
“The first thing you see is his detail and how locked in he is to getting it perfect and getting it right. He’s a perfectionist, he approaches the game that way every day,” Nussmeier said. “Watching his approach, his work ethic and the way he’s worked to get his body to where he wants to be to start camp and he’s done an outstanding job.
“Obviously, his resumé speaks for itself, you’ve seen the things he’s done,” Nussmeier added. “Really excited to get an opportunity to collaborate and work in the same setting. We have high goals of what we can do.”
Moore said: “I’m just really, really excited to be able to work with him and, hopefully, help him in some way as he continues to build the career that he is going to have.”
That’s the other thing about this contract extension, too.
Herbert is still only 25 years old and has already accomplished so much individually in his first three years in the NFL.
The main mission now is to lead the Chargers to a place they have never been before, a scene that ends with No. 10 hoisting a Lombardi Trophy as confetti falls.
The Chargers extending Herbert on Tuesday ensures the vision of that happening is alive and well.