2017 Chargers: For Pocket-Passers, Days Numbered in L.A.

2017 Chargers: For Pocket-Passers, Days Numbered in L.A.
CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 11: Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers reacts after a play against the Carolina Panthers in the 3rd quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Chargers’ head coach Anthony Lynn made it clear from the start that getting younger at the quarterback position was a top priority this offseason. When asked, back in March, by L.A. Times,’ Dan Woike about the Chargers’ QB situation, he referred to aging incumbents, Philip Rivers and Kellen Clemens as being ‘long in the tooth.’

If the quarterback prospects invited to camp this offseason are any indication, two things are very clear. First, the new regime clearly favors the dual-threat variety at quarterback. Second, Kellen Clemens time with the team won’t last past this season or perhaps even this month.

The prevailing sentiment, given recent history, has been that Rivers has at least a good three seasons of elite production left in him. With no real contenders on the radar, Rivers’ hold on the starting position is not expected to be challenged. Not, at least, in the immediate future.  The future of Clemens, however, is an entirely different matter. Based on the attention given to the position by the front office so far, this offseason, it’s safe to say that Lynn’s staff is keen to move in a different direction.

Following the 2017 NFL draft, the team signed UDFA, QB Eli Jenkins, a dual-threat prospect out of Jacksonville State. Prior to the draft, they also brought back Mike Bercovici, a UDFA out of Arizona State, signed by the team in 2016. Earlier this month, Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was brought in for a look, just before agreeing to terms on a trade with the Buffalo Bills for dual-threat prospect Cardale Jones. Adam Schefter reported that the Chargers gave up a late-round pick for Jones, who played under Coach Lynn in Buffalo last year.

2017 Chargers: For Pocket-Passers, Days Numbered in L.A.
DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 01: Cardale Jones #7 of the Buffalo Bills runs for a short gain in the fourth quarter of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 1, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Bills 31-0. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Of the prospects brought into camp by the Chargers, Jones might be the most intriguing. Will Reeves Jr. of CHARGERSWIRE called the trade for Jones a ‘coup’ for L.A.

“But make no mistake, this was an absolute heist for L.A. in landing the 6-foot-5, 250-pound quarterback with a cannon for an arm, some untapped potential, and a championship pedigree to boot from the Buffalo Bills for such a lowly price.”

Though Jones should probably be considered the odds-on favorite to ultimately supplant Clemens, it’s more likely that the Chargers elect to carry three quarterbacks.  Clemens would seem the obvious ‘odd-man-out’ save for his knowledge of the offense, a distinct advantage over his younger, more physically gifted counterparts.  Jones will have his work cut out for him if he’s going to gain sufficient command of the playbook to have a chance of leading the team to victory in Rivers’ absence.

No matter how it ultimately unfolds, the battle shaping up in L.A. this summer for the Chargers’ backup quarterback-spot should be one worth watching.



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