April 24, 2024

Justin Herbert’s production warranted record-breaking extension, but will it lead to Chargers playoff success?

The Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert have reached an agreement on a five-year, $262.5 million extension that makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history at $52.5 million annually. 

Highest-paid players by average annual value

Here’s the interesting numbers behind his record-breaking payday. 

Herbert has the most passing yards and second-most touchdown passes by any player through three seasons in NFL history. Only Dan Marino had more touchdown passes through three seasons.

Herbert career ranks through three seasons (NFL history)

Pass yards

14,089

Most

Pass TD

94

2nd-most

300-yard passing games

22

Most

Herbert managed to rack up 4,739 passing yards last season despite his top wide receivers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, missing chunks of time, not to mention Pro Bowl offensive tackle Rashawn Slater missing 14 games. He finished with the third-most passing yards in a season by anyone in NFL history without the help of a 1,000-yard receiver. 

Most single-season pass yards without 1,000-yard receiver (NFL history)

Drew Brees (2008)

5,069

Drew Brees (2014)

4,952

Philip Rivers (2015)

4,792

Justin Herbert (2022)

4,739

Philip Rivers (2010)

4,710

He also did it while being pressured 272 times, the most of any QB in the NFL last season. This is somewhat misleading, as Herbert had the most dropbacks (757) in the NFL, but he was still pressured more often (36%) than the league average (33%).

Most times pressured last season

Herbert was tied with Daniel Jones for the second-shortest average pass length in 2022. That should change in 2023 with new OC Kellen Moore, the return of a healthy Allen and Williams, plus the addition of first-round rookie wideout Quentin Johnston.

Fewest air yards per pass attempt last season

The Chargers have also scored more points and allowed more points in Herbert’s starts than any other QB through three seasons since the 1970 merger.

Herbert ranks through three seasons (starting QBs since 1970)

Team points

1,233

Most

Opponent points

1,256

Most

The Chargers defense is one reason Herbert doesn’t have a playoff win yet. Los Angeles blew a 27-point lead in the 2022 postseason against the Jaguars, the fifth-largest blown lead in NFL history between the regular season and playoffs. 

Herbert has the third-most passing yards in a three-season span without a playoff win in NFL history. Only Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford ever had more. Good news for Herbert, both won a Super Bowl at some point in their careers.

Most pass yards in three-year span without a playoff win (NFL history)

Drew Brees (2014-16 Saints)

15,030

Matthew Stafford (2011-13 Lions)

14,655

Justin Herbert (2020-22 Chargers)

14,089

Defensive reinforcements could help the Chargers with a defensive turnaround in 2023. They drafted linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu in the second round, linebacker Daiyan Henley in the third round and signed free agent linebacker Eric Kendricks this offseason.

The Chargers are still in search of their first Super Bowl title, and their underachieving ways have carried over to the Herbert era. The Chargers have gone under on their pre-season win total in four straight seasons, the longest active streak in the NFL. Caesars Sportsbook sets their over/under win total at 9.5 for 2023. 

Chargers pre-season win total (past five seasons)

2023

9.5

?

2022

10.5

Under

2021

9.5

Under

2020

8

Under

2019

10

Under

This is hardly a reflection of Herbert’s production, but mostly due to the Chargers bad injury luck (Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Rashawn Slater, Joey Bosa, J.C. Jackson and Derwin James all missed multiple games last season) and struggling defense. With Herbert signed long-term, the Chargers are in great position to turn around some of their playoff misery. 

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