Because of their quarterback’s age and their potential relocation, the Chargers are coming to terms with the fact that Philip Rivers’s time there might be nearing an end. But with Marcus Mariota spending the day dining with San Diego coaches and executives, rumors are flying that the timeframe for Rivers’s exit might be a matter of weeks, not years.
Rivers’s displeasure with the Chargers’ situation is very real: he has refused to renegotiate his contract, which expires after this year, and says it’s because he has no intention of committing himself to a team that could move to Los Angeles after the season.
In ostensibly unrelated news, Chargers staff flew to Oregon last night to eat dinner with Mariota, and will work him out today.
So far, all the rumors have been trafficking in the currency of plausibility, but even in the NFL’s silly season, there’s not a step here that’s illogical:
- The Chargers, who haven’t met a hump they could get over, need to rebuild. That would start with getting a QB who’s not 33 years old.
- If Rivers intends to leave after this season, to retirement or to free agency, the Chargers would be foolish not to get value for him now rather than let him walk for nothing.
- The Chargers select No. 17 in this month’s draft; way too late, by all projections, to get Mariota. If they’re scouting Mariota this hard, it’s more than just due diligence.
- The Titans, picking at No. 2, have done nothing to publicly discourage other teams from believing they’re willing to trade their pick. They may still use it, but they’re definitely listening to offers.
So, the not-at-all-crazy argument goes like this: the Chargers would package Rivers and a suite of picks for the Titans second-overall spot, take Mariota, and rebuild around him.
It’s important to note that this rumor appears to be real (in the sense that it’s an actual rumor, not that it will necessarily happen). It’s been floated by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, while Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager says “a few league sources didn’t shoot those [rumors] down when I approached them.” Yes, the draft run-up is lousy with lies and misinformation , but there appear to be people around the NFL who believe Rivers-to-Tennessee could actually go down.
The Chargers would be smart to do it, the Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee writes today:
This is not for effect. This is best for all involved.
If Mariota has the potential to be an elite NFL quarterback – and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are reportedly considering making him the No.1 pick over Florida State’s Jameis Winston – then moving on is the best route for the Chargers. (They have not traveled to see Winston; Mariota is their sole focus.)
They should get the QB they think is their next leader before they’re forced to find one who might not be.
I do think this makes a ton of sense for the Chargers, if they’re actually this high on Mariota. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t really make the same sense for the Titans, who have a lot more problems than just at QB. What would they want with Rivers, who is good-to-great, but who is unlikely to still be effective if/when Tennessee becomes competitive again? In any trade, the Titans’ real return would be the draft picks, not a stopgap signal-caller. They’d want a ton from San Diego even beyond Rivers.
Never let sense get in the way of a blockbuster trade rumor, though. The logical next step is to speculate over which QB-needy team should get in on a three-way deal for Rivers. (Chip? You listening, buddy?)