If you haven’t heard the news already, Los Angeles Chargers star quarterback Justin Herbert signed a record-setting 5yr/$262.5 million contract extension deal on last week to remain with the Chargers through the 2029 season. The deal includes a no-trade clause, with $133.7 million guaranteed and $193.7 million in injury guarantees.
This deal makes Herbert the highest paid quarterback in NFL history based on annual salary ($52.5 million). Herbert’s deal surpasses other previous blockbuster deals for quarterbacks earlier this season such as Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts (five years, $255 million), and Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson (five years, $260 million).
Through the first three seasons of his career, Hebert has proven to be a stat stuffer with his rocket arm, passing many significant categories by becoming the only player in NFL history with over 1,300 completions (1,316), 14,000 passing yards (14,089),100 combined passing-rushing touchdowns (102), and the most 300-yard games (22) through their first three seasons.
Hebert’s 94 passing touchdowns also are second-most all-time for a player in their first three years (Dan Marino first with 98). He’s the first player to throw for over 4,000 yards for three consecutive seasons (Peyton Manning).
So despite all the statistical accomplishments and accolades from Pro Bowls Offensive Rookie of the Year, and a gadget arm with great mobility… What’s next for the Chargers franchise cornerstone?
Winning. Despite the lightning out of a bottle start to his career so far, Herbert has yet to win a playoff game. They went (7-9), (9-8), and (10-7) through his first three seasons under head coach Brandon Staley.
The Chargers have had their chances to make noise in the playoffs the last few seasons but they either have come short of missing the playoffs due to boneheaded calls during the most impractical times (Week 18 in a 35-32 OT loss against the Raiders for example), or blowing a 27-0 advantage over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round of the playoffs this past season in a humiliating 31-30 defeat.
These types of events give skeptics/critics to question if Herbert is really that guy who can help your team when the lights are bigger and brighter in the postseason despite throwing for 273 yards and a touchdown against the Jags and 383 yards and three touchdowns against the Raiders two seasons ago.
The Chargers have too much talent on their roster to continuously fall short of even winning a playoff game, from having Pro Bowlers/All-Pros such as Joey Bosa (linebacker), Khalil Mack (linebacker), and Derwin James (safety) who are the leaders on the defensive end and makes many scratch their head on how they blew a 27-0 lead despite all their defensive talent.
On the offensive end, Herbert also has weapons such as wide receivers Mike Williams and five-time Pro Bowl selection Keenan Allen, as well as a solid running back in Austin Ekeler who’s rushed for almost two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (915 & 911).
Now being the highest-paid player in the league (for now), and a massive contract that cements Herbert as the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future, the pressure is on now to have some playoff success.
This happens for all the greats in all sports, you start off as the new shiny toy, and everyone is singing your praises as you record historical numbers and do amazing things on the court or field. But, there comes a point where people and the media move past that honeymoon phase of you as the new darling and want to see winning get mixed into the equation along the way.
Now is the time for Justin Herbert to prove he can win.