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Justin Herbert Reflects on Year 3 in the NFL


Justin Herbert's third season in powder blue is in the books.

It featured more passing records, a double-digit win season and his first playoff appearance.

But now that the 2023 offseason is here, the Chargers starting quarterback is now eligible to sign a contract extension because he was a first-round pick in 2020.

Herbert on Sunday was asked about the possibility of signing a long-term deal with the Bolts.

"I've been so thankful to be a part of the Chargers organization. I'd do everything I can to be here," Herbert said. "Whatever happens, happens. I've been so thankful for the Spanos family and everyone in the front office for taking great care of us."

Both Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco and Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley held their year-end press conferences earlier this week.

The topic of Herbert's contract predictably came up, and both of the Bolts leaders heaped praise on the 24-year-old.

"I think that's going to be a big topic in the offseason. I think we all know how we feel about Justin," Staley said. "I know those conversations will take place in the right space and time. We have really good relationships with his team. I'm confident that Justin Herbert is going to be a Charger for a long time."

With the offseason just getting underway, Telesco said he hasn't gotten into any player's contract yet.

But he knows Herbert's value to the organization both on and off the field.

"I sleep better at night knowing we have a franchise quarterback, that's No. 1," Telesco said. "He's done so much already in his young career, yet we all know there's still a lot there because of his commitment to the game.

"He's a perfectionist and how much he does in preparation for his job. What I've been around, all the great quarterbacks have that, as far as what they do in the building to prepare for the next opponent and the amount of work into it," Telesco added. "Then, combine that with his physical ability. We're extremely lucky to have him. We're going to just kind of keep building around him, build him a defense to get him the ball back and go from there."

Herbert's 2022 season was filled with ups and downs, whether it was a rib injury he suffered in Week 2 or dealing with constant moving parts around him.

Despite all the adversity, he still finished second in the league with 4,739 passing yards and once again hit the 25-touchdown mark for the third straight season.

Herbert said Sunday that the rollercoaster season — including the way the Chargers season ended in the playoffs — will drive him in the coming months.

"It was definitely a tough year," Herbert said. "But I think adversity is a good teacher for us and good experience we needed to go through and learn from. There's only going to be one team happy at the end and that's not us.

"We're going to use it as fuel for going forward. Having gone through these things this year, we're better off because of them," Herbert added. "We might not know why now, but going forward, but we'll appreciate these lessons and do everything we can to learn from them."

A pair of Herbert's offensive teamamtes said they saw him take strides on and off the field this season … and can't wait to see what he has in store for 2023.

"Just being himself, getting more comfortable, everything," said center Corey 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," Linsley added. "It's incredible. 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."

Running back Joshua Kelley added: "With him, it's just being a great leader. When we all came in, we were trying to figure this thing out. Now he's going into his fourth year and he's just an amazing leader. More vocal, just a totally different person. And his game is great, obviously. It's been great to see that."

Time will tell if Herbert has a contract extension in hand when the Chargers open the 2023 season.

But as the young quarterback continues to grow as a leader off the field and a player on it, it's clear that his best days are certainly ahead of him.

"If I know one thing, our players, front office, coaches, we believe in him 100 percent," Telesco said. "We know that if we just get him the ball at the end of the game, we have a chance to win."

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