For the last five years, speculation of the Los Angeles Chargers finding the heir to Philip Rivers has occurred almost every offseason. But will it actually happen soon?
Rivers is coming off an incredibly efficient season that was his best in years. It’s also true that he will be 38 this December. For about five years now, there’s always been speculation that the Chargers will find the next guy soon, be it through draft or trade in the offseason.
And for those same five years, nothing has come to fruition. We can even go back to the speculation and rumors that the Chargers were discussing trading Philip Rivers for Marcus Mariota back in 2015.
There are a few key factors to evaluate here. First, is Rivers’ current play and whether the organization sees it as sustainable.
While it’s very possible Rivers doesn’t play at an MVP level as he did in 2018, he’s still coming into 2019 with about the same team around him. Keenan Allen is still Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon is still Melvin Gordon, and Mike Williams took a massive step forward in development last season.
The Chargers are also going to look to the draft and offseason to develop the offensive line further. It’s possible Rivers’ play declines slightly over the next few years, but with the offense currently in place and where the team is as a whole, it won’t be enough to bring them down from playoff contention.
The second factor is Rivers’ age, and that’s probably the biggest factor that has changed in terms of perception over the last few years. Quarterbacks are playing longer. Last year, the average age of starting quarterbacks in the NFL was 30.3 years old.
We will be in a league shortly with more starters over 30 than under 30. Rivers turns 38 this year, as I mentioned earlier, and that’s only the fourth oldest in the league. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning are the only starters currently older who all will start in 2019, and most likely even 2020.
Quarterback age in 2019 is simply not looked at the same way as it was in 2014. Everyone laughed when Brady suggested playing until 45, and it’s now looking like he may actually get there.
The game is certainly less rough on quarterbacks now with how the game is called with roughing the passer penalties and how defenses are expected to hit the quarterback. Athletes across the spectrum of sports are playing longer too due to advancements in sports science and sports health. The league is easier on a quarterback’s body and health than 5-10 years ago.
The other thing to consider here is that the Chargers will be a contender for the next two or three years. As far as the draft is concerned, does it really make sense with the construction of this team to use a first, second, or third round pick on a quarterback who may not play for the next three or four years?
This discussion has become more interesting with the recent wrinkle of reports that the Chargers are a team interested in Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen.
When it comes to Rosen, I believe that the team is mostly just doing their due diligence in looking at the option. It’s entirely possible they make a deal for him, but with the recent addition of Tyrod Taylor as the backup quarterback for the next two years in free agency, I see it as unlikely.
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So, this brings us back to the main question here-if not now for Rosen or in the draft with any of the quarterbacks coming out, when? And to me, the answer is a pretty resounding not any time soon when looking at all the factors.
Rivers is playing his most efficient and probably the best football of his career, has a career with few injuries, never misses games, and the league around him is getting older at the quarterback position as a whole due to how the position is protected by referees.
Age for quarterbacks simply isn’t as much of a concern as it was back in the day. The fact that the team will be a contender for the near future also disincentivizes using a high pick on a quarterback as well.
Finding Rivers’ replacement has been a discussion that’s gone on since maybe 2014, and the Chargers might not really find the guy or have the desire to fill that role for awhile.