Contract signed, Justin Herbert opens Chargers camp with some on-the-money throws

Fans clamor for an autograph from Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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The chatter started on social media among his teammates almost immediately after Justin Herbert and the Chargers agreed Tuesday on the largest contract extension in franchise history.

Where, exactly, is the NFL’s highest-paid player now going to take the locker room for dinner?

“We need to go on the rooftop somewhere with the contract he got,” safety Derwin James Jr. joked Wednesday. “He’s going to take us somewhere. I know he will.”


Herbert signed his five-year extension — worth to up $262.5 million, with slightly less than $134 million fully guaranteed — Wednesday morning and then participated in the Chargers’ opening practice of training camp in Costa Mesa.

The nearly two-hour session included him connecting with Mike Williams and Keenan Allen for sizable gains in seven-on-seven drills and then hitting John Hightower for a long touchdown.

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“He was focused the whole offseason,” coach Brandon Staley said. “He had a really good summer of training. He came in ready to play, as you guys saw today.”

Herbert’s average annual salary of $52.5 million tops the league, while his fully guaranteed money trails only Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson.

With two years remaining on his rookie deal, Herbert, 25, is now tied to the Chargers through the 2029 season.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos greets quarterback Justin Herbert at training camp Wednesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“I’ve never wanted to be anywhere else,” he said. “This is where I’ve wanted to be for, shoot, as long as I’ve been born and playing football. It’s a dream come true.”

After practice, Herbert spent several minutes signing autographs for fans before meeting with the media. He also hugged Dean Spanos and then posed for pictures with the Chargers’ owner.

Herbert thanked the franchise for drafting him and said he planned to give back to the L.A. community as a way of further expressing his gratitude. He said he was glad to have his longer-term future settled before camp opened.


“I think it’s huge because now our focus is on football,” Herbert said. “It’s not going to be a distraction for us.”

Having grown up in Oregon, Herbert also thanked his family and those people back home who aided in his development.

He admitted the idea of signing a deal worth up to more than a quarter of a billion dollars was hard to fathom.

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“I’m still trying to process the whole thing,” Herbert said. “I feel free and just excited to go play football. That’s the biggest focus right now, just football. I don’t have to worry about anything else. I’m exactly where I need to be with this team.”

And, yes, Herbert acknowledged that dinner will soon be on him, carrying on a tradition started last season by veteran edge rusher Khalil Mack.

“We know there are some really selfless guys on this team,” Herbert said. “I’m just so loyal to them and so thankful for their support along the way. I think it might be my turn to make up for some of that.”



The Chargers placed defensive linemen Austin Johnson and Otito Ogbonnia and wide receiver Jalen Guyton on the physically unable to perform list. All three are rehabilitating from season-ending knee injuries. Staley offered no timeline on their returns. The absences of Johnson and Ogbonnia mean more opportunity for players such as Nick Williams, Christopher Hinton and Scott Matlock, a sixth-round draft pick in April. ... Guyton is the speediest of the Chargers’ wideouts. Without him, rookie Derius Davis — a fourth-round selection — figures to see more time.