COSTA MESA — Cardale Jones might not start a game this season.
He might not start a game next season.
Or, even the season after that.
But the Chargers’ recent acquisition of the 24-year-old quarterback wasn’t about sparking immediate playoff contention — something General Manager Tom Telesco believes is already within the team’s reach. It was about adding a young prospect to sit behind Philip Rivers, who at 35 years old is closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
In Jones — who cuts an imposing figure at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds — Telesco said he sees a quarterback “with developmental traits that are hard to find.” And at the cost of a conditional seventh-round pick in 2019, he didn’t give up much to pry the young passer away from the Bills.
That first-year coach Anthony Lynn saw Jones regularly in Buffalo, where he served as offensive coordinator and interim coach, only made it easier to pull the trigger.
“It’s been a goal to get a guy into the system,” Telesco said Thursday. “You never know when it’s going to happen. It didn’t happen in the draft. We saw this opportunity there. This didn’t just come up yesterday. We had talked with them a little while back into the summer.
“So like I said, it’s good to get a young guy in the system that we haven’t had.”
Since hiring Telesco in 2013, the Chargers have selected just one quarterback: Brad Sorensen, at No. 221 overall that spring. Sorensen was the first Southern Utah product drafted into the NFL, but his career arc has been otherwise unremarkable. At 29 years old, he has yet to appear in a regular-season game, and is currently not on any roster.
Drafted in the fourth round by the Bills a year ago, Jones adds significantly more intrigue to the Chargers’ training camp, which starts Sunday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa. His arrival has already prompted the team to waive Jacksonville State’s Eli Jenkins, who had joined the offseason program in San…