After watching Tom Brady commit to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Los Angeles Chargers are reportedly out of the veteran quarterback transaction business.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Chargers won’t pursue a veteran via free agency or trade.
That means barring a change of strategy or a smokescreen, the Chargers will open a new stadium alongside the Los Angeles Rams with Tyrod Taylor as their top veteran quarterback.
Tough sell in new stadium
The Chargers couldn’t fill a 27,000-seat soccer stadium with home fans with Philip Rivers under center. With speculation of a coronavirus recession looming, Taylor’s going to be a tough sell with 70,000 seats to fill every home game.
Taylor is a capable NFL quarterback. The problem is that at 30 years old and nine seasons into his career, he’s a known commodity. He’s a game manager — a safe player that won’t make mistakes, but won’t light up scoreboards or make a significant difference in terms of wins or losses.
That’s not going to sell tickets in Los Angeles.
Will Chargers pursue Tua?
It all points to the Chargers looking to make a splash in the draft. The Chargers have the No. 6 pick in a draft with several quarterbacks expected to go in the first round. It makes sense that the Chargers would draft a rookie to potentially sit behind Taylor until he’s deemed ready to start.
But with the No. 6 pick, they’d likely have to move up to secure a prize like Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Cincinnati Bengals are widely believed to be taking LSU’s Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick.
Washington has the No. 2 pick that it could dangle as trade bait for teams intent on taking Tagovailoa. That is if it doesn’t punt on Dwayne Haskins and take Tagovailoa for itself.
What about Herbert and Love?
Tagovailoa isn’t expected to drop past the Miami Dolphins at No. 5, meaning the Chargers would likely have to trade up or look to a quarterback like Oregon’s Justin Herbert or Utah State’s Jordan Love instead.
Neither is as sexy a sell to fickle L.A. sports fans as the former Heisman candidate and hero from Alabama’s 2017 championship season. Would the Chargers feel pressure to move up if they have an opportunity to draft Tagovailoa?
If they like Love or Herbert, then the answer is still yes. But they could take the pragmatic approach, not bow to outside pressure and take the guy that they like at No. 6 instead.
Tagovailoa won’t be ready to play in 2020 anyway after suffering a knee injury. Any excitement he would generate in Los Angeles wouldn’t pay off this season.
Is it all Cam Newton smokescreen?
With free agency in full swing and the draft approaching, this is prime disinformation season in NFL circles. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers are reportedly committing big money to Teddy Bridgewater, meaning Cam Newton is on the block.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Chargers are leaking this plan to tamp down the trade market for Newton, who would qualify as a splashy acquisition in L.A. and still provides tremendous upside as a 30-year-old former league MVP.
Either way, the Chargers missed a chance to open their new stadium with a Brady bang. But it could mean they end up in a better position at quarterback for the long run than a 42-year-old who’s clearly in decline — but only if they play their cards right.
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