After coming up short in the race for free agent Tom Brady earlier in the offseason, the Los Angeles Chargers appear to have moved on from the veteran quarterback market. In doing so, they essentially handed over the starting job to Tyrod Taylor, the experienced signal-caller the team signed a year ago.
But while the Chargers' roster features no obvious competition to Taylor, he does not yet feel comfortable declaring himself the starter for the upcoming season.
"I think it's too early to start talking about it," Taylor said to the Orange County Register. "I've never been one to focus on things that I can't control. … It starts with guys who [the Chargers] may sign whether it would be a veteran or whether it would be a rookie. I can't focus on that because I can't control it. So, I feel like if I'm putting too much time into that then I'm not putting enough time into myself to be the best player … I think I kind of done a good job of separating myself from the emotional side of things and just putting it aside and just strictly focusing on me being better, and going out and attacking each job with a starting mindset."
To Taylor's point, the free-agent market still includes some big names. Cam Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP and longtime starting quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, appears to have recovered from the two major surgeries he underwent over the past 16 months and would fit the Chargers' preferred style of offense. Taylor has a better perspective on Newton's health than most after the two worked out together earlier this offseason. Meanwhile, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal-caller Jameis Winston has yet to find a new team and might settle for a one-year deal to prove himself. Any could come to Los Angeles and compete for the starting job.
However, just because the Chargers have veteran options doesn't mean they intend to pursue them. They signed Taylor last year because of his own history as a starter and his connection with head coach Anthony Lynn. That relationship offers a solid foundation for the post-Philip Rivers offense. Taylor also can provide mentorship to a rookie quarterback should general manager Tom Telesco select one in the 2020 NFL Draft. Los Angeles currently holds the No. 6 overall pick.
Still, at this stage, Taylor cares more about approaching the job with the right mindset than how the Chargers will build the quarterback room over the next few months.
"I've done that since I stepped into this league as a sixth-round draft pick going to a team with an established quarterback," Taylor said. "For myself … mentally, I knew I had to walk into the building with a starting mindset, so I can be able to grow into the way I needed to grow, and I'm just trying to keep that mindset throughout the years. It has allowed me to be able to focus on what needs to be focused on for me to be able to go out and play ball at a high level."
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH