On the day Tua Tagovailoa pronounced himself to be “100%” healthy, coach Anthony Lynn downplayed the notion that the COVID-19 pandemic is significantly impacting the Chargers’ medical evaluations.
Because of travel and other restrictions, NFL teams are unable to administer physicals for any available players, including Tagovailoa and Cam Newton, two rehabilitating quarterbacks who could be options for the Chargers.
“We have enough doctors and enough paperwork to know how healthy a guy is, I believe,” Lynn said. “You always feel better when you have your personnel. You bring them in and give them your own physicals and all that. We’re just going to have to rely on some other people this time.”
The Chargers still appear to be moving forward with veteran Tyrod Taylor as their starter in 2020. They are expected to draft a quarterback later this month and have the No. 6 overall pick.
Tagovailoa, who is coming back from a season-ending hip injury at Alabama, told the NFL Network that, if he had to play in a game today, he’d “be able to go out and perform the same way I was able to perform in previous years. I feel as mobile as possible.”
Miami, which has the fifth overall pick on April 23, long has been considered the top destination for Tagovailoa. Recent reports, however, suggest the Dolphins are more intrigued by Oregon’s Justin Herbert.
If those stories are accurate, the Chargers, without having to make a trade to move up in the draft, could find Tagovailoa still available when their first selection arrives.
As a team moving on from Philip Rivers, the starting quarterback for 14 seasons, the Chargers naturally remain prominent in any speculation regarding Newton, a nine-year veteran and former league MVP who was limited to two starts in 2019 because of a foot injury.
Recently cut by Carolina, he is now a free agent and, similar to Tagovailoa, has declared that he is healthy.
“Cam’s a good quarterback,” Lynn said Wednesday during a media conference call. “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’s a big reason they were there.
“He’s had some injuries. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be a good quarterback for somebody.”
Asked specifically if the Chargers had interest in Newton, Lynn chose to answer vaguely.
“You know, we’re looking at everybody, man,” he said. “I want to turn over every single rock. So, yeah, we’re looking at everybody.”
Still, barring any unforeseen changes, Taylor is the starter, with Easton Stick, a fifth-round pick a year ago, the only other quarterback currently on the roster.
Taylor, who turns 31 in August, started for three seasons in Buffalo, where Lynn used to coach. He helped lead the Bills to the playoffs in 2017 and has a starting record of 23-21-1.
During three seasons as a starter, Taylor completed 63% of his attempts and averaged 201 yards passing per game. He threw for 51 touchdowns with 16 interceptions.
Taylor also rushed for 1,575 yards, 90 first downs and 14 touchdowns, his ability as a runner in direct contrast to what the Chargers had with Rivers.
While identifying Taylor as his starter, Lynn added “no position is final until we get through training camp right now.”
He also said center Mike Pouncey continues to rehabilitate and is doing well. Pouncey was limited to five starts last season because of a neck injury that eventually required surgery.
“We expect him to be [medically] cleared by the time we get back and get going,” Lynn said. “If he’s not, we have other options.”
The Chargers are rebuilding their offensive line and already have acquired right tackle Bryan Bulaga and right guard Trai Turner, Lynn suggested they also are looking to add a left tackle, either in the draft or through free agency, with 16-year veteran Jason Peters one of the players still available.
Peters spent the past 11 seasons with Philadelphia. He was on the Eagles team that came to Carson in October 2017 and beat the Chargers 26-24.
“Savvy, veteran guy who’s been in the NFL for a lot of years,” Lynn said. “I remember Jason all too well three years ago when they came down here and played us. He had a hell of a game. Yeah, guys like that, they’re still around and can do a good job.”