Chargers Rumors

Former Chargers OL Max Tuerk Dead At 26

Former NFL offensive lineman Max Tuerk died on Sunday at the age of 26, per an announcement from USC’s athletics department. Tuerk, a third-round draft pick of the Chargers in 2016, was 26 years old. The cause of death was not disclosed. 

Tuerk made his name at USC, where he lined up at guard, tackle, and center and totaled 38 starts. Heading into his senior year, Tuerk looked the part of an early draft pick, but a knee injury capped his senior season at just five games. In the draft, the Chargers saw Tuerk as a potential steal, a versatile blocker who could bolster every part of the front five.

Unfortunately, suspensions and injuries plagued Tuerk’s pro career. The Chargers stashed him on the taxi squad in 2017, until he was plucked by Arizona. He played in just one game for the Cardinals before he was released outright in the offseason.

We here at PFR would like to express our condolences to Tuerk’s family and friends.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colin Kaepernick NFL Return Gaining Steam?

Although Colin Kaepernick has not played since the 2016 season, the quarterback has remained a fixture in NFL news cycles for most of his free agency stay. And momentum appears to be growing for the former 49ers passer to receive another opportunity.

In discussing Kaepernick with some NFL head coaches, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport indicates there is “far, far more interest” in the 32-year-old passer now than there probably has been since he became a free agent in March 2017 (video link). While a few hurdles would remain — particularly in this coronavirus-marred offseason — Rapoport adds that teams’ interest in Kaepernick for a backup job is “very real.”

It has been well-documented the former Super Bowl starter has received only one opportunity to visit a team; that came with the Seahawks in 2017. Pete Carroll said he now regrets not signing him at that point but added that his team is content at quarterback now. Although a handful of teams stayed in Atlanta for the NFL-organized workout Kaepernick rearranged at the 11th hour last fall, no franchise has brought in the polarizing free agent since the Seahawks did so in during the summer of 2017.

Kaepernick had drifted off the NFL radar to a degree after his workout last year, but the worldwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality over the past three weeks have reignited the push for the player that started the NFL protests on this front to receive another chance. Roger Goodell called for Kaepernick to be given another opportunity this week.

It will take a team to make that happen, and much like Cam Newton, Kaepernick would likely have to wait until free agents are allowed to visit teams to have the chance to sign anywhere. That window may not open until late July, when training camps begin. That said, recent Jets signee Joe Flacco is not expected to be recovered from neck surgery until at least September. Newton would rank higher on quarterback-needy teams’ pecking orders than Kaepernick, but the former MVP profiles more as a starter — potentially if a team’s QB1 suffers an injury. Kaepernick interest appears to be contingent on a backup gig.

One of the teams connected to Newton this offseason discussed Kaepernick on Wednesday. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said (via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com) Kaepernick would fit his system but added that such an opportunity would likely be contingent on an emergency-type situation (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Andrew Siciliano). Lynn said he has not spoken with Kaepernick.

While ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes (via Twitter) the Chargers have come up around the league as a potential Kaepernick fit, joining the Titans in that regard, Lynn said he was happy with the three quarterbacks he has. The Bolts — they of a Tyrod TaylorJustin HerbertEaston Stick QB depth chart — having passed on Newton earlier this year provides a pretty good indication they are content at quarterback for the time being.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Chargers’ Keenan Allen Signs $45MM Extension

Four years ago today, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen scored a seismic pay bump. After months of negotiations, the former third-round pick agreed to a four-year add-on worth $45MM with nearly $21MM fully guaranteed at signing. Before that, Allen was playing on his rookie deal – a four-year pact worth just $2.8MM in total. 

[RELATED: Make-Or-Break Year: Titans WR Corey Davis]

Few could dispute Allen’s value to the Bolts. As a rookie in 2013, Allen eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving and scored eight touchdowns. He back down to earth in 2014, but he was on pace for the best season of his career – 67 receptions and 725 yards through only eight games, before a lacerated kidney forced him off the field. With a clean bill of health for 2016, and his 25th birthday still on the horizon, the Chargers were happy to lock Allen down for several years.

Allen’s $11MM+ average annual salary put him in the top ten at his position at the time, appropriately slotting him ahead of Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns, who had just inked a four-year, $40MM deal. From the Chargers perspective, it was a short-term cap saver – it would have cost the team $15MM to keep him for an extra year via the franchise tag.

Unfortunately, Allen’s 2016 did not go according to plan as he suffered an ACL tear in the first half of the team’s very first game. But, after that, it was mostly smooth sailing – Allen went off for nearly 1,400 yards in 2017, giving him his first of three consecutive Pro Bowl nods.

Allen is once again set to enter his walk year as his four-year extension wraps up. And, once again, he’s in position for a pay raise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Re-Sign Damion Square

Damion Square has re-signed with the Chargers, according to an announcement from the defensive tackle on his Instagram page. Terms of the deal are not yet known. 

[RELATED: Latest On Chargers’ Potential QB Plan]

Square first entered the league in 2013 as a UDFA with the Eagles and hooked on with the Bolts in 2014. That’s where he’s been ever since, seeing playing time as a rotational lineman and occasionally as a starter. In his six years with San Diego/Los Angeles (really five years, since he didn’t take the field in Year One), Square has started in 23 of his 75 games. He’s also picked up 5.5 sacks along the way, thanks in part to some snaps at defensive end in ’18.

Last year, Square finished out with 27 tackles, perfect attendance, and four starts. He was on the field for 402 snaps, good for third among Chargers interior linemen. This year, he’ll back up Linval Joseph, who joined the squad on a two-year, $17MM deal in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chris Harris Confirms Chargers Role

  • Chris Harris confirmed he will play a familiar role with the Chargers. The ex-Broncos standout will play both outside and in the slot, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com (on Twitter). While Harris played mostly on the outside in 2019, he earned All-Decade acclaim by playing both roles during his previous Broncos seasons. With Casey Hayward and Desmond King in the fold, the Bolts figure to have considerable versatility in their Derwin James-led secondary this season.

Latest On Chargers' Potential QB Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic will make rookies’ transitions more difficult, and quarterbacks will face a tough learning curve. As a result, Tyrod Taylor is expected to open the season as the Chargers‘ starting quarterback, Daniel Popper of The Athletic writes (subscription required). That arrangement may continue for a while. No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert will likely sit at least eight games, Popper predicts, noting that the Bolts are preaching patience with their first Round 1 quarterback pick in 16 years. Anthony Lynn said in early April that Taylor was the Bolts’ starter “for now.” Taylor is undoubtedly a bridge quarterback again, but this bridge may be longer than the one the Browns used to get to Baker Mayfield two years ago.

  • Defensive lineman Damion Square and the Chargers have expressed mutual interest about another contract, Popper notes. The Bolts originally picked up Square in 2014 and re-signed him in 2017 and ’19. The former UDFA would provide a veteran presence on a defensive line housing Pro Bowlers Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Linval Joseph up front but little experience behind them. Square, now 31, has seen time at defensive tackle and D-end with the Bolts. He started 11 games for the 2018 Chargers, registering three sacks that season.

NFL To Vote On Major Rule Changes

The NFL figures to look mighty different in 2020. On Tuesday, owners will vote on the following rule proposals, per a press release from the league office: 

  • From the Eagles: An alternative to the onside kick, that would allow the trailing team a chance to keep the ball after scoring by going for it on a 4th-and-15 play from the kicking team’s 25-yard line. As Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) notes, this is similar to the rule used by the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.
  • From the Eagles: A permanent expansion of automatic replay to including “scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful/ unsuccessful try attempt.”
  • From the Dolphins: Give the defense the option to have the clock to start on the referee’s signal, if the defense declines an offensive penalty late in the first or second half.
  • From the Ravens and Chargers: The addition of a “booth umpire” as well as the addition of a “Senior Technology Advisor to the Referee” to assist officials.
  • Increased “defenseless player protection” for a kick or punt returner who is “in possession of the ball but who has not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.” (from the Competition Committee)
  • Cutting down on game clock manipulation by disallowing “multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.” (from the Competition Committee)

The Eagles’ proposed amendment to the league’s onside kick is the boldest of the bunch, and support is growing among owners, Pelissero hears (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the Ravens/Chargers idea for a “sky judge” also has momentum (Twitter link). Either way, Pelissero gets the sense that some version of that concept will be tested in the preseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Re-Sign OL Ryan Groy

The Chargers announced that they’ve re-signed offensive lineman Ryan Groy, who appeared in nine games for the club in 2019.

Groy, 29, has served mostly as a backup during his six-year NFL career, but that could prove to be a critical role on Los Angeles’ roster in 2020. Chargers center Maurkice Pouncey missed most of the 2019 campaign with a neck injury, and while he was recently medically cleared, there’s always a chance Groy could be asked to fill in at the pivot. New right guard Trai Turner, meanwhile, has missed three games in each of the past three years, so there could be ample opportunity for Groy to play.

An undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin in 2014, Groy has appeared in 65 games and made 17 starts throughout his NFL tenure. After spending his rookie campaign with the Bears, Groy played for the Bills for four years before joining the Chargers last October.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Chargers HC: We Took “A Look” At Cam Newton

The Chargers have been mentioned as one of the likeliest landing spots for quarterback Cam Newton ever since the Panthers released the former MVP. Even after Los Angeles added Justin Herbert in this year’s draft, Newton was still considered a possibility given that he — if healthy — would represent an upgrade over presumptive starting signal-caller Tyrod Taylor.

And the Chargers themselves did give the matter some thought. In a recent interview with Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio (story via Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports), Los Angeles head coach Anthony Lynn conceded that the Bolts considered signing Newton.

“Absolutely, Cam is a tremendous quarterback,” Lynn said. “He’s been MVP of this league, he’s led his team to the Super Bowl and he’s healthy now from what I hear. Cam is going to be on somebody’s roster and he’s going to help somebody win a few games, but yeah, we did take a look at that, sure.”

Lynn previously indicated that he was interested in Newton, but this marks the first time that he explicitly said so. When asked why the Chargers passed on the three-time Pro Bowler, Lynn reiterated his feelings towards his current QBs.

“I feel really good about the quarterback room that I have,” he said. “With Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick — those are guys that a lot of people don’t talk about, but [Stick] was a Division I AA — he won like three national championships. He’s a hell of a leader, hell of a professional and I think he has a bright future in this league one day.”

When factoring Herbert into the mix, it certainly seems as if Newton is no longer a candidate for the Chargers, barring injury. The same can be said for the Patriots, another club viewed as a potential suitor. So Newton, who has said that he is willing to be patient, will need to wait for an injury to, or an extremely disappointing performance from, a current starting quarterback if he wants a QB1 role in 2020. However, he may be warming to the idea of a backup role, which would give him a chance to re-establish himself and perhaps become the best free agent QB available in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.