LOS ANGELES -- Since coming up short in the race to land free agent Tom Brady, the Los Angeles Chargers have appeared to settle on their next starting. Tyrod Taylor, the backup to Philip Rivers a year ago, appears likely to take over behind center for the team in 2020.
"Obviously, I brought [Taylor] in last year, and I knew if we needed him to start if something happened to Phil that he could go in," Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. "I'm very familiar with Tyrod. I would say right now he's in the driver's seat. But no position is finalized until we get to training camp."
Giving the job to Taylor would presumably come at the exclusion of the veterans on the open market, namely former Carolina Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton. While the Chargers have not made overtures to Newton thus far, they haven't closed the door on pursuing him later in the offseason either.
"Cam's a good quarterback," Lynn said. "He's done a lot of good things with the Panthers. He led them to a Super Bowl. Didn't quite get the job done, but he was a big reason why they were there. He's had some injuries. But if he's healthy, he'll be a good quarterback for somebody."
When pressed on whether the Chargers have taken a look at adding Newton, Lynn chose not to deny it.
"We're looking at everybody, man," Lynn said. "I want to turn over every single rock. So yeah, we're looking at everybody."
Newton holds obvious appeal to a team like the Chargers. At his best, few quarterbacks in NFL history have presented a more daunting combination of passing and running ability. Just five years ago, Newton figuratively and literally bowled over the league on his way to winning the MVP and carrying the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, accounting for 35 touchdowns through the air and another 10 on the ground.
However, Newton hasn't matched those heights in the seasons since. He struggled with ball security throwing 44 picks and fumbling 15 times. His body also started to betray him. Newton missed 17 games since his MVP campaign and played with diminished ability in numerous others, directly contributing to the Panthers reaching the playoffs once during that stretch. In just the past 16 months, he has undergone surgery on his throwing shoulder and foot.
Those injuries most significantly affected Newton's ability to find work. Normally, a player like Newton would visit interested teams and meet with their medical staffs. However, due to the NFL banning face-to-face meetings amid the coronavirus crisis, Newton can't show whether he has recovered from his recent surgeries. Until that changes, Newton will have a difficult time heating up his market.
Still, Newton has plenty of time before the start of the season. Perhaps the Chargers might not need him now, but that could change if they don't land a quarterback in the draft and want additional competition come training camp. At least right now, Lynn won't dismiss the possibility.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH