It's been suggested several times over the past couple of months that Philip Rivers might be headed to Tennessee in return for the #2 pick in the upcoming draft, which San Diego would then use to select Marcus Mariota out of Oregon (provided that Tampa Bay goes with Jameis Winston at #1).
Each time, it would have been perfectly reasonable to dismiss the notion as offseason BS or excessive rosterbation. But the rumors haven't died yet, and now the draft is but two weeks away. Here's what's being written about Rivers' future in San Diego:
The UTSD's Kevin Acee says Rivers - with whom he's close enough to team up in a charitable venture - really does despise the idea of moving to Los Angeles:
The ominous reality for the Chargers is that there is no telling what happens with their franchise quarterback.
Despite some inside Chargers Park pressing the narrative that the Los Angeles factor is overblown, the team knows it is not.
There are numerous people in the organization dreading a move to L.A. as much as Rivers is. Everyone knows it is possible – some even believe likely – the team will move in 2016 or ’17.
The only real control the Chargers have with their quarterback is now, this offseason.
So – and this is difficult to think, let alone write – they need to trade Rivers.
If Monday night’s dinner and Tuesday’s workout in Eugene, Ore., are everything the Chargers expect, and they see in former Oregon star Marcus Mariota a possible franchise quarterback, they should do what they can to trade up and draft him.
The Chargers should get the No.2 pick from the Tennessee Titans, select Mariota, then take a running back with the No.17 pick. Start over in a big way.
Yes, the Chargers in all likelihood would keep their first round pick should they deal Rivers to Tennessee. They may, according to some around the league, have to throw in a selection in a later round. But people are really just speculating, since there is no precedent for trading a quarterback of Rivers’ stature at this juncture in his career for a draft pick(s).
It can, however, be done. It should be.
On Monday, Peter King admitted in his weekly MMQB column that the Chargers' having worked out Mariota was nugget-worthy. Compelling, even...
The Chargers’ workout might be a story. It might not be. I still think it’s highly unlikely San Diego trades Philip Rivers to Tennessee. This could simply be a matter of coach Mike McCoy and GM Tom Telesco doing their due diligence in case Mariota has an Aaron Rodgers-type slide. But my eyebrows are sufficiently raised.
The next day, PK profered that a deal only makes sense if San Diego loves Mariota. But like many things King writes, isn't that self-explanatory?
Acee is close to Rivers. Acee is tight with the Chargers. And he’s right that the deal makes sense, but only if one very important condition is met. Only if San Diego coach Mike McCoy and GM Tom Telesco are convinced—not just have a feeling—that Mariota can be a very good long-term quarterback.
Otherwise, I don’t like dealing Rivers. At all. The Chargers haven’t won more than nine games over the past five seasons, but that’s not Rivers’ fault.
Grantland's Bill Barnwell says the Chargers don't have quite as much leverage with Rivers as it might appear:
There’s also a nonzero chance that Rivers would retire if the Chargers slapped him with the franchise tag, a move that would prevent San Diego from obtaining any sort of value for its signal-caller. It would also force the Chargers to find a new starting quarterback without the sorts of assets needed to acquire an important contributor; they would likely have to rely on a veteran free agent, a buy-low trade acquisition, or a quarterback taken in the 2016 draft.
Unless the Chargers unexpectedly collapse this year, that would be a quarterback chosen in the middle of the first round or with a later pick, and it’s fair to say they would be unlikely to find a passer anywhere near as good as Rivers. If they didn’t address the position, they would likely have to struggle through a brutal 2016 with the likes of Kellen Clemens under center before taking a quarterback early in the 2017 draft.
The alternative to that seems pretty appealing. If the Chargers like Mariota (and don’t think Rivers is bluffing), they could deal Rivers while his value remains high without having to struggle through a transitional season or risking a scenario in which they lose him for nothing. They are exceedingly unlikely to end up with a draft pick or a young passer with a better pedigree than Mariota in the years to come, at least not without having a season where everything goes to hell. And if Mariota succeeds, they could have a franchise quarterback and $15 million in found cap space to invest elsewhere during the 2016 season.
Reading the tea leaves, Will Brinson explains at CBS Sports what a Rivers-for-Mariota deal might look like:
Tennessee sends a first-round pick (No. 2 overall) and a third-round pick (No. 66 overall)
San Diego sends Philip Rivers and a second-round pick (No. 48 overall)
Might the Chargers even consider trading Rivers elsewhere? NFLN's Ian Rapoport says the price would be a hefty one:
Trade him for draft picks: The Cleveland Browns would love this, but we just don't see it as realistic. Quarterbacks are just too valuable to trade one away without getting one in return.
Rapoport reported that it would take "multiple" first-round picks to acquire Rivers, but the No. 2 overall pick is not your average first-round pick. This is not your average trade speculation. These are the type of trades that get talked about for decades. Rivers knows all about them.
Frank Schwab of Shutdown Corner doesn't believe acquiring Rivers would be enough to turn the Titans' fortunes:
Moves are made in the NFL all the time to save jobs. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster know the clock is ticking after a 2-14 season. Titans ownership surely wouldn't mind a big name to market, because they have none now. But these aren't sound football reasons to make a franchise-changing deal, if they're even really considering it.
Rivers is a fine quarterback and he'd give the Titans a few good years. And that would be perfect if the Titans were a quarterback away from contending for a title. They're not.