Chargers sign Tyrod Taylor to back up quarterback Philip Rivers, keep Brandon Mebane

New Chargers backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor started 46 games over the past four years with the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns.
(Ron Schwane / Associated Press)

The Chargers brought in a new No. 2 quarterback Wednesday and brought back a familiar defensive line starter.

Tyrod Taylor and Brandon Mebane both agreed to terms on two-year contracts.

On the first official day of free agency, the Chargers also announced the addition of veteran linebacker Thomas Davis from Carolina and lost wide receiver Tyrell Williams to Oakland.


Taylor will be reuniting with coach Anthony Lynn, the pair having spent two seasons together in Buffalo.

A Pro Bowler in 2015, Taylor — who turns 30 in August — has started 46 games over the past four seasons. He opened 2018 as Cleveland’s starter before suffering a concussion in Week 3 against the New York Jets and being replaced by rookie Baker Mayfield, who never relinquished the starting position.

Geno Smith backed up Philip Rivers last season and attempted four passes in five games of mop-up action. Rivers hasn’t missed a start since taking over in 2006.

Cardale Jones, who was the No. 3 quarterback a year ago, remains on the Chargers’ roster. They also could draft a young developmental prospect in April as a possible replacement for whenever Rivers retires.

Mebane, 34, was an unrestricted free agent but now returns for his fourth season with the Chargers and 13th in the NFL. He has started all 38 games in which he has appeared since joining the team in 2016. A captain for three years running, Mebane finished 2018 with 40 tackles in 12 games.

His season was one full of heartbreak as he lost his 7-week-old daughter, Makenna, in January. She suffered from a chromosome disorder that led to her being born with a defective heart. Mebane missed four games while attending to his daughter.

During his time with the Chargers, Mebane has received awards for his courage and inspiration, and established himself as a leader in the locker room.

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Losing Williams was a foregone conclusion after the season, given the Chargers’ limited salary-cap space and the thin free-agent market for wide receivers. He received a four-year, $44-million deal with $22 million guaranteed from the Raiders.

The Chargers originally signed Williams as an undrafted free agent, and in four seasons with the team he caught 155 passes for 2,530 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The continued development of Mike Williams should lessen the blow of Tyrell Williams’ departure, although the Chargers now face the reality of having to face him twice a year against their AFC West rival.

Davis agreed to his deal Tuesday. The two-year contract is worth up to $10.5 million, with half of that guaranteed. He spent 14 years with Carolina, earning Pro Bowl honors in three straight seasons starting in 2015. In 12 games last year, Davis finished with 79 tackles, which tied for second on the team.

Davis, who turns 36 next week, missed the first four games in 2018 after violating the league’s rules on performance-enhancing drugs.

Among the Chargers’ remaining unrestricted free agents are defensive back Adrian Phillips and defensive linemen Darius Philon, Damion Square and Corey Liuget.

The team has expressed interest in retaining Jason Verrett, who missed last season with a torn Achilles and most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons with a left knee ACL injury. The cornerback reportedly also is meeting with Kansas City, Houston and San Francisco.

Safety Jahleel Addae, released by the Chargers last week, remains unsigned.

Twitter: @JeffMillerLAT