That vaunted quarterback class of 2004 will turn 34 this year—right around the age, if you're a good-to-great QB like Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, or Philip Rivers, you get that last longish-term contract to set you for life. Roethlisberger got his extension; Manning's is likely coming soon. But Rivers has made crystal clear that he has no intentions of re-upping in 2015.
Keep this San Diego Union-Tribune story in mind as you watch Rivers this season, and as the Chargers do their courtship dance with Los Angeles.
Asked on Tuesday if he thinks he will play his current contract out rather than agreeing to extend the deal that ends after the upcoming season, Rivers said, "Yes."
Asked if he envisioned any circumstance causing him to reconsider, he said, "Honestly, nothing."
That sounds fairly definitive, but Rivers undercuts himself a bit when he says his resolve not to do an extension will only increase once he comes to camp. (Increase from what? I guess the door's open a crack.)
But it really does seem like Rivers would not want to be part of the move if the team relocates to Los Angeles as threatened.
"What we've established here with my growing family is hard to recreate," he said. "It's hard to up and recreate that. I know that moves are part of life. But that certainly is fair to say that (not being sold on moving to Los Angeles) is part of it. The good thing is I'm not under contract in a year where we'd potentially be in Los Angeles."
It's hard to know Rivers's angle here. Maybe he really doesn't want to uproot his wife and seven children. Maybe he thinks the Chargers, who have missed the playoffs four out of the last five seasons, are trending downward, and he'd like to go somewhere else with a better chance to win. Maybe he simply wants more money than the Chargers have offered him.
The Chargers do have options. They could franchise Rivers for 2016. Or they could trade him this spring and get some value for one year of a guy who's still a better QB than most teams have in place. There have been rumors that the Chargers, picking at No. 17 are interested in trading up to go after Marcus Mariota, and they are indeed hosting a private workout for Mariota next month.
When asked by the Union-Tribune if the Chargers might move Rivers, GM Tom Telesco pointedly chose not to give a yes or no answer.
Telesco was asked Tuesday, via text, to quash any possibility Rivers would be traded. Even when pressed, he declined.
"I don't like Philip as our QB, I love him," Telesco wrote. "And I'll go to war with him."
I can think of a number of NFL teams that are generally well-constructed but weak under center that would happily go to war with Philip Rivers.