The Los Angeles Chargers confirmed what they long expected to do: exercise their fifth-year option on quarterback Justin Herbert.
The news wasn’t as encouraging for inside linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr., with L.A. declining to guarantee his fifth year with the club after drafting him 23rd overall in the 2020 draft.
The record-setting Herbert, of course, is in line for a rich, multiyear deal and talks are ongoing to make it happen. Herbert, the sixth overall pick from that ‘20 draft, has throw for more yards than any other player in his first three NFL seasons.
Herbert, 25, helped lead the Chargers to their first playoff appearance since 2018, where they had an epic collapse in losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC wild-card round.
The market for quarterbacks continues to accelerate, with the signings of Jalen Hurts with the Philadelphia Eagles and Lamar Jackson agreeing to terms with the Baltimore Ravens.
Jackson, a former NFL MVP, has $260 million deal in place and it comes with a $185 million guarantee.
Hurts, who recently helped the Eagles to their first Super Bowl since the 2004 season, received a $255 million deal with $180 million guaranteed.
Those figures make Herbert’s compensation look puny in comparison. He’ll earn $4.23 million this upcoming season, for a total of $29.5 million over the pact’s final two years.
There’s a belief that Herbert’s pay this season could make him only the third-highest paid quarterback in L.A., behind the Rams’ Matthew Stafford and the University of Southern California’s Caleb Williams, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Herbert has consistency said he’s not concerned with his next contract and when it might become consumated.
“I’m just worried about playing football and doing my best to rehab my shoulder,’’ he said.
Herbert underwent an operation to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the offseason, but he’s expected to be fit for the Chargers’ training camp this summer.
“I’ve got complete faith in the Chargers organization and the front office,’’ said Herbert, who played most of last season with a rib injury. “They’ve done a great job of taking care of us as players, and I’ve loved to be a part of this team, being a part of this organization, and it’s kind of beyond my control as to what happens now. I’m just doing everything I can that I can control.’’
Murray has been up-and-down in his career with the Chargers, as coaches have moved him around on defense to try and find a spot where he could replicate his impressive production at Oklahoma.
He’s yet to match his rookie-season numbers when he notched 107 tackles, with a sack. Last year was probably his most complete season when his 76 tackles where complemented by a sack, three passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Murray will earn $2.3 million this season, the last year of his rookie contract that was worth $12.9 million, all of which was guaranteed.