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Which Los Angeles Chargers Quarterback Has the Most to Prove in Training Camp?

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Kellen Clemens is the obvious answer. Here’s why.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kellen Clemens has been in the league for 12 seasons now, including his upcoming fourth season with the Chargers. Arriving for the 2014 season, Kellen Clemens has attempted 10 total passes during the last three regular seasons, completing 6 for 73 yards and a TD. During his career, he has thrown for 20 INTs against only 16 TDs, completing only 54% of his passes.

Clemens entered the league via the 2nd round of the 2006 NFL draft by the New York Jets. He was selected to back up Chad Pennington, who happened to go down with an injury week one of the 2007 season, where he threw for 1500 yards, 5 TDs, and 10 INTs. Brett Favre was signed in the offseason, leading to Clemens heading back to the bench, and spent that year behind Favre, and the following 2 seasons behind Mark Sanchez.

He spent 2011 on three teams, including a month on the Redskins, 2 weeks on the Texans, and the remainder of that season as well as 2012 and 2013 with the then St. Louis Rams where he saw spot duty as a starter due to Sam Bradford’s injury-laden time in St. Louis.

Knowing how effective Philip Rivers is and given his 4th all time consecutive starts (185 games), backup quarterback was an pretty much an afterthought in Mike McCoy’s Chargers, as Brad Sorenson never showed enough to make the active roster, Zach Mettenberger being too enamored with taking selfies to be taken seriously on the field, and Mike Bercovici’s inability to hit open receivers.

This offseason, the Chargers traded a conditional round pick to the Bills (spoiler alert: Coach Lynn came from the Bills) for salivating talent, Cardale Jones. Cardale Jones entered the 2016 NFL draft and was selected in the fourth round after a falling from grace in his final season at Ohio State. In the previous season, however, Cardale Jones went from the 3rd-string QB to the starter due to Injuries and made his first start in the Big Ten Championship game against the #11 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. In his second start, he brought down the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 42-20, and defeated the Oregon Ducks in the National Championship Game, partially due to his 280 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs.

He won the starting job in 2016 but was benched in favor of J.T. Barrett, after an uninspiring 1460 yards and 10 total TDs against 5 INTs, mainly due to his shoddy footwork and slow progressions. Both of those can be fixed with time, but talent and prototypical NFL ability can’t be taught.

If you want to read more about Cardale Jones, check out this analysis of the trade by Jamie Hoyle, and this 90 in 90 by Jamie Sewell, and other articles online that show how much Anthony Lynn loves the guy and how “He’s the type of quarterback you want waiting on the runway.”

Kellen Clemens has many negatives working against him. He is long in the tooth (whereas Cardale Jones is a 2nd year player), he is a known (poor) commodity, was brought in by the previous coaching scheme, he’s more expensive than Cardale (1.1 mil to 540k), and Anthony Lynn has really been talking up Cardale Jones as the potential guy once Philip Rivers unfortunately (but eventually) retires.