Wild Trade Proposal Sends $262M Quarterback to Commanders

Justin Herbert

Getty Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in 2023.

On the surface, it’s a wild trade proposal for the Washington Commanders that seems like it borders on science fiction.

With a closer look, there might be something to it.

During a discussion with NFL reporter Ben Solak on The Bill Simmons Podcast on April 23, Simmons proposed a trade that would send Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to the Commanders in exchange for the Commanders’ first-round pick, which the Chargers would use on Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, along with more draft picks.

McCarthy played for first-year head Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, where the two teamed up to go 15-0 and win the College Football Playoff national championship in 2023.

“The funniest thing that could happen, from a holy (expletive) standpoint, with this NFL Draft, is if the Chargers traded Herbert over the next 48 hours,” Simmons said.  “Like let’s say the Chargers traded Herbert to Washington for the No. 2 pick and got all the picks … (because) Washington has so many picks. And then (Harbaugh’s) endgame would be to end up with a bunch of picks and sell on Herbert.”

It’s a trade that would rock the NFL to its core — Herbert is a Top 10 quarterback who signed a 5-year, $262.5 million contract extension in July 2023.

Simmons, however, isn’t the only one who thinks it’s a real possibility.

Drastic Drop in Odds for Chargers to Trade Herbert

The Chargers opened at +10000 odds (100-1) on ESPNBet to use their first-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft on a quarterback. Those odds moved to +1500 (15-1) two days before the draft on April 23 and dropped to +600 (6-1) on the day before the draft on April 24.

The first round of the draft is April 25 in Detroit.

At the NFL owners meeting in March, Harbaugh said he thought McCarthy was the best quarterback available in the draft. The Chicago Bears seem like a lock to take USC quarterback Caleb Williams at No. 1 with most mock drafts projected LSU’s Jayden Daniels to the Commanders at No. 2 and North Carolina’s Drake Maye to the New England Patriots at No. 3.

The Chargers currently have the No. 5 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

“I think he plays quarterback the best of any quarterback in the draft,” Harbaugh said on March 25. “He’s incredible. So, big market, small market. Cold weather, hot weather, it won’t matter.”

Herbert Has Big Money, Not Big Moments

The Chargers selected Herbert out of Oregon with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. In four seasons, Herbert has a 30-32 record as a starter and has led the Chargers to the playoffs once.

In his one playoff game, Herbert and the Chargers blew a 27-0 lead in a 31-30 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Wild Card Round — the third-largest blown lead in NFL playoff history.

Herbert’s contract has $218.7 million in guaranteed money and contains a cap hit of $71.1 million in the final year of the deal in 2028.

First-year Washington general manager Adam Peters been a part of a blockbuster trade to move up in the draft in the past.

When he was assistant general manager for the San Francisco 49ers, they traded three first-round picks to move up to No. 3 overall to take North Dakota State’s Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“As we’ve discussed many times, you can’t remember a lot of Justin Herbert moments so far,” Simmons said. “I know he’s good, but, you know, it would be funny. Out of all the things that could happen on draft day other than Chicago not taking Caleb Williams and taking another quarterback, this would be the most jaw-dropping, shocking thing.”

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