The rumors continue to swirl about various NFL franchises making the move to Los Angeles. It likely will not be for a couple of years now that a team actually makes the transition. However, the teams most frequently involved in talks of a move to Southern California are the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and oddly the San Diego Chargers. The last one is a real head-scratcher. The Chargers had an average attendance last season of 65,530 per game last season on average. The maximum capacity of their stadium is only 70,561. The fan base is available for the Chargers in San Diego but that doesn’t seem to be enough. It might be soon enough though if the team is serious about keeping its best player.
Since 2006, Philip Rivers has been the starting quarterback in San Diego. As the starter, he has led the Chargers to five postseason appearances and really been the focal point since LaDainian Tomlinson left for New York. He has been named to the Pro Bowl on five separate occasions. Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now and while he might not be the best in the business. He is a well above average starter. However, with all the rumors circulating that the team might be moving, Rivers has made it clear that he does not want to resign with the Chargers. His contract is set to expire after this season so that makes this a very time sensitive issue.
The potential solution rumored to swirling around the winds of NFL news is to trade Rivers away to a quarterback needy team to cash in on a top draft pick. The Chargers hold the 17th pick in this year’s draft but with many teams in the top five wanting a bonafide franchise signal caller, there is a market for Rivers. The issue is that whatever compensation San Diego might get will likely not be enough to really offset the loss of Rivers. If the team traded away the five-time Pro Bowler, they would likely be looking to land Marcus Mariota from Oregon as his replacement.
However, as it has been well-documented, Mariota likely will not be a Day 1 starter. He will need a year to work out the final kinks in his game before taking over as the starter. The Chargers would more or less be pushing back any chances of competing in the playoffs for about two years, at least, with Mariota at the helm. The reality is that this team needs to run the risk of Rivers leaving. There is no guarantee that the organization moves out to LA and even if they did you can hope that maybe Rivers will change his mind.
Sure it would be nice to get a security policy in case Rivers does leave but the smarter way for San Diego to do that would be to draft a quarterback in the second or third round that has the potential to replace Rivers in 2016 if he does leave. With Brent Hundley, Byrce Petty and Garrett Grayson all expect to go in one of those following two rounds, the Chargers could find a talented, quarterback with a lot of potential. It would be an ideal situation where you let him learn from the veteran Rivers for a season before letting him take the reins the following year.
My final evaluation, keep the sure thing rather than gamble your future on something that may or may not happen. Rivers is on the cusp of very good and elite. He is not someone you can simply replace. Only netting the second, or potentially later, pick in the draft should not be enough to tip the Chargers’ hand. Selecting Hundley or one of those other players in a later round is a much safer plan and it allows you to cover your bases, as the Chargers clearly want to. Word I am hearing is that the San Diego organization is looking to just ride this year out and wait to see what happens with both relocation and Rivers’ contract. My opinion: keep number 17 in Charger powder blue. He gives them the best chance to win, and after narrowly missing the playoffs last year, the Chargers could be poised to make a postseason run. Under a rookie quarterback, none of that is possible.