Chargers’ Justin Herbert doesn’t rule out a ‘hold-in’ as QB negotiates deal

Justin Herbert hopes he doesn’t have to answer questions about a contract extension much longer.

However, the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback did hint that missing practices is a possibility if a deal isn’t reached by the start of training camp.

Talks between the Chargers and Herbert’s agents remain ongoing. Los Angeles is expected to begin training camp on July 26.

“It’s something that we’ll address when the time comes, but I guess we’ll see,” Herbert said on Wednesday as the Chargers completed offseason workouts with the final day of their mandatory minicamp.

Herbert and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow are likely to cash in before the start of the regular season. Both quarterbacks, who were selected in the 2020 draft, could eclipse the five-year extensions Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts ($255 million, $179.3 million guaranteed) and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson ($260 million, $185 guaranteed) signed earlier this year.

Herbert is second in the league in completions (1,316), third in passing yards (14,089) and sixth in TD passes (102) the past three seasons.

Players reporting to training camp, but not taking part in practices — called a “hold-in” — has been an increasingly common occurrence throughout the league the past couple of seasons so that they aren’t fined for each day they did not report to camp.

Chargers safety Derwin James was an observer for the first three weeks of camp last season before signing a four-year extension worth $76.5 million that made him the NFL’s highest-paid safety.

Coach Brandon Staley supported James’ stance last year, but didn’t seem eager to consider a scenario where his franchise quarterback might do the same thing.

“I think you know, that’s just, hypothetical. We know who Justin is, just like we knew who Darwin was,” Staley said. “I know that Justin is gonna be ready to go.”

Herbert has not played in a preseason game, but the Chargers hired Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator and are putting in a new system. Any hurdles during the installation process in training camp is something that all parties would like to avoid.

“The role of the quarterback is to be out there for his team and to do everything he can to put that team in a position to win. I understand that responsibility,” Herbert said.

While Herbert’s contract situation remains unresolved, running back Austin Ekeler answered questions about agreeing to an additional $1.75 million in incentives for the final year of his deal.

Ekeler is in the final season of a four-year deal worth $24.5 million. He received permission to seek a trade after both sides could not agree on a contract extension.

“I was in an opportunity to try to capture some more value after the year that I came off of. Just what’s been happening with the atmosphere around the running back market it’s been pretty tough,” Ekeler said. “I am thankful for the way it played out because the Chargers did right and gave me something in the middle, some type of incentive.”

Ekeler led the league with 18 touchdowns from scrimmage last season and became the fifth running back in league history with at least 100 receptions. His 107 catches were tied for second most by a running back in a season. He also rushed for 915 yards, including a pair of 100-yard games.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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Justin Herbert

Los Angeles Chargers

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