QB Billy Volek (Andy Lyons/Getty)
Even on Leap Year Day, the Chargers were not ready to take a leap of faith with Charlie Whitehurst. Instead, the Chargers re-signed eight-year veteran Billy Volek to a three-year contract. The signing provides San Diego with extra insurance in case Philip Rivers isn’t ready for the start of next season.
Billy Volek just completed his second season in San Diego. His biggest impact came during last season’s divisional playoffs, when he stepped in during the fourth quarter for an injured Philip Rivers and led the Bolts on an eight-play, 78-yard game-winning touchdown drive.
Volek arrived in San Diego in 2006 via an in-season trade with the Tennessee Titans. During his stint in Tennessee, Volek competed 312 of 517 passes (60 percent) for 3,505 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
In 2004, he became the fourth player in NFL history to have back-to-back 400-yard passing games, going for 426 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs and 492 yards versus the Oakland Raiders.
“We are very excited to have Billy back,” General Manager A.J. Smith said. “It gives us continuity at the quarterback position. He is always prepared and ready. With his talent, experience and command of our offense, it’s just a great feeling to know he is in the wings.”
Volek will run the No. 1 offense for most of the offseason as Rivers recovers from ACL surgery. Rivers is expected to be back in time for training camp, but that is far from guaranteed. The extra work should leave Volek even more prepared should he be called upon again next season.
The loser in this deal is Charlie Whitehurst, who is entering his third year out of Clemson. Whitehurst is a gamer with a big arm and the ability to push the ball down the field. However, he has a propensity for turning the ball over and can be erratic when not locked on to his intended target.
Whitehurst will now have to bide his time and wait out his rookie contract before he can land the starting job he believes he deserves.
“I can perform when my number is called and I am very confident in that,” Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst will have to take a number while he waits his turn. No. 17 and No. 7 have to top two spots locked down for the foreseeable future.