Chargers coach Anthony Lynn spoke strongly this week about Tyrod Taylor remaining his starting quarterback when he returns from a rib injury, a sentiment strongly backed up through the upper reaches of the organization, team and league sources said. The Chargers are adamant that the veteran will remain in place, and with an NFLPA investigation into the team's handling of Taylor's injury ongoing, any change to Taylor's playing status could have outside ramifications.
The NFLPA is looking into claims that Taylor's lung was punctured 15 minutes before game time when he was administered a pain-relieving shot for his rib injury. The Chargers are not commenting on the matter, but sources said Taylor and his representation are unequivocal that the lung was punctured by the shot, when the quarterback began having respiratory issues. Such an injury is considered a potential risk when administering a shot in the area Taylor required it, according to a former team doctor I spoke to.
The union is seeking clarity on the full timeline of events and whether or not all known risks and side effects were adequately presented to the quarterback prior to taking the needle. The investigation will assess whether or not there was any negligence or malpractice on the part of the team doctor and, as per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement regarding such matters, whether or not Taylor suffered any harm regarding vulnerability to long-term injuries or harm in the form of losses to his earning potential due to a change in status. The NFLPA has 50-60 days with which to present any evidence of such harm and, sources said, will take all the time necessary to process how Taylor recovers and whether his starting status is impacted by the punctured lung.
Taylor's injury is being deemed "week-to-week" by the Chargers, and sources said his status for Week 4 remains very much in doubt. If rookie Justin Herbert were to shine in his absence, and Taylor was relegated to a backup role due to an injury caused by the team doctor, his agents and the union could claim that being on the bench again will limit his future earning potential and cause the market to view him no longer as a starting QB. The secondary QB market fell apart in 2020 (former NFL MVP Cam Newton signed for just $550,000 guaranteed in June) amid an ongoing pandemic, and the 2021 market could face a similar impact due to COVID-19, factors not lost on Taylor's union.
Taylor, 31, is making $5 million this season and is a free agent in 2021. These factors clearly can't be lost on the Chargers either, who regardless were voicing full-throated support of Taylor staying in that role even before details of the punctured lung became public.
While the team's coaches and execs were floored by Herbert's performance after being rushed into duty last week, they favored Taylor this summer because of his veteran presence, knowledge of their offense and personnel and, above all else, his innate ability to protect the football. Philip Rivers fell out of favor there last season, after a potential Hall of Fame career, because of his dizzying rate or turnovers. In general, that is an issue for rookie quarterbacks.
"We like Tyrod a lot for a lot of reasons," one team source said, noting "he is a steadying presence" and "doesn't turn the ball over." The Chargers have built a stout defense and have shown the ability to move the ball on the ground with multiple backs. Herbert's play could have an impact, one way or the other, on how they move forward at that position, but there are now non-football reasons for maintaining Taylor as their starter when he is ready to return, and possible outside ramifications if they don't do so.