If I had a nickle for every time I said the Chargers were the AFC’s version of the Vikings, I’d be nearing (or maybe even past) fifty cents.
Like our Minnesota Vikings, the Los Angeles Chargers have a long, sometimes heartbreaking history. The team came into existence in 1960 (the Vikings were born in 1961). Though they’ve been around for a while, the Chargers have never won a Super Bowl. By no means is this a team that has been without talent, and nor is it one that is perpetually pathetic. Nay, they’ve often had tremendous players, and they’ve also put together several elite regular seasons (including in recent years, such as 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2018).
The intrigue, though, goes beyond mere similarities between the Chargers and Vikings. Indeed, so much of the interest flows from the approach they’re taking for 2022 contention. Like Minnesota, LA is hoping to snag the Lombardi following the 2022 season. We know this because of the moves they made during the offseason. They traded for Khalil Mack and signed J.C. Jackson. The elite edge rusher and corner will join an already strong roster.
Of course, the team also has Justin Herbert, a great QB who is still playing on his rookie deal. Over the Cap indicates that he carries less than $7.25 million on the cap in 2022. Minnesota, in contrast, has Kirk Cousins accounting for more than $31 million this year. That discrepancy – an extra $24+ million in cap room for LA – has been used to bring in Mack, Jackson, and others.
What we have are two teams competing for a Super Bowl. Both are coming off underwhelming seasons. Both are hoping that reloading during the offseason will be enough to accomplish the ultimate goal of snagging the franchise’s first Super Bowl. The critical difference rests in the strategy at QB. One team is leveraging the cap flexibility that flows from a rookie deal; the other is trying to maneuver around a sizeable deal for a strong veteran.
The similar yet different approach to achieving the same elusive goal makes the Chargers and Vikings strange bedfellows for the 2022 season. I’ve got my eye on both.