Free Agency

Free Agent Forecast: Joe Webb


The Chargers are looking for depth at quarterback and receiver, with Kellen Clemens hitting free agency and Malcom Floyd hanging up his cleats. The Chargers have a chance to fortify both positions by signing this generation’s Slash — Joe Webb.

Webb, who spent the last two seasons in Carolina after beginning his career in Minnesota, is the ultimate jack of all trades.

He appeared in 16 games as a quarterback for the Vikings, including a five-game stretch to close out the 2011 season when he completed 55 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Two years later, while serving as the No. 3 QB behind Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel, Webb caught five passes as a situational receiver.

He made some plays with his feet, too.

Fast forward to last season in Carolina, where Webb, 29, found new ways to contribute with eight kickoff returns for 178 yards (22.3-yard average) and eight tackles on special teams.

Webb is one of those glue guys who consistently finds a way to get onto the field. Which begs the question: How would he get onto the field in San Diego?

He lacks the accuracy to be a No. 2 QB, which means the Chargers will have to either re-sign Clemens or bring back Charlie Whitehurst to fill that role. But Webb would be an excellent No. 3 QB, one who has the chance to contribute in situational packages.

It’s easy to envision OC Ken Whisenhunt using Webb on two-point conversion attempts, which we should see more of in 2016 after Josh Lambo missed four extra points as a rookie. Webb could also be a weapon when the Chargers decide to go for it on fourth down; last season, the Chargers ranked No. 29 in fourth-down conversions at 33.3 percent.

Whisenhunt has plenty of ideas regarding what to do with a mobile quarterback, having spent all of last offseason drawing up plays for Marcus Mariota.

As a receiver, Webb would be no better than fifth in the pecking order behind Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman, Stevie Johnson and whoever the Chargers bring in via free agency (be it Travis Benjamin, Andre Caldwell or Leonard Hankerson). But that’s OK, because Webb is a big, athletic target (6’4”, 235 lbs.) who is durable and dependable.

Remember last season, when Vincent Brown was signed midweek and forced into action just days later? Guys like Webb prevent that from happening. He can fortify the receiver position while being filed away as a quarterback on the depth chart.

Webb’s work on special teams should not be dismissed, either. The Chargers are in the market for a return man after Jacoby Jones flamed out, and will need help in kick coverage, too, to offset the losses of Donald Brown and Kavell Conner, who were released on Thursday.

Webb played last season on a one-year, $665,000 contract. If the Chargers offer him a three-year, $5 million deal, the former sixth-round pick from UAB would likely leap at the opportunity and the stability it provides.

About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for and has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Football Insiders and MySpace Sports.

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