On the surface, the Chargers quarterback position is about one man: Philip Rivers. Analyzing it further reveals some interesting story lines.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is playing 16 games, so what’s the point of talking about quarterbacks if it begins and ends with him? It’s probably a fair opinion many would have, but this year, there’s more interest. From the surprise signing of Tyrod Taylor to drafting Easton Stick, the quarterback situation got a bit more interesting than the average journeyman backup.
First, it wouldn’t make sense to not begin with the Chargers’ starting quarterback for well over a decade. Rivers is coming off his best year as a pro, which few expected. No. 17 achieved the highest passer rating of his career and posted his second-highest completion percentage in 2018. He’s the NFL’s current quarterback iron man, starting 208 games consecutively through his entire career. It’s expected he’ll have a year like last season, or potentially an even better one with the return of Hunter Henry.
Taylor is the best backup quarterback in the league. What does that mean? The response from some might be not much, considering the likelihood of Rivers playing every game barring horrific injury. But think for a second about Taysom Hill in New Orleans last year, where the coaching staff schemed a number of plays featuring him as a huge part of the offense. Can Taylor play the same role? That’s up to the coaches, but as an athletic dual threat quarterback, it sounds like an intriguing idea that could take some offensive load off of Rivers.
Stick was the Chargers’ fifth-round draft pick out of North Dakota State University. The former teammate and backup of Carson Wentz was an interesting pick, mostly because it’s been speculated for years the Chargers would eventually take the replacement for Rivers at some point. Ultimately though, Stick is a project. There are clear reasons he wasn’t the top pick Wentz was, and if he even is eventually the guy for the Chargers, it’s years down the road. Being able to sit behind Taylor and Rivers for the next two years at least is optimal for his development. His numbers in college are tremendous, and Wentz himself has proven that small-school quarterbacks can make it at the next level when developed properly.
Cardale Jones, a product of the Chargers-Bills trade back in the day, is likely to stay on the practice squad considering the Chargers must keep Stick on the roster to really keep him. Jones hasn’t gone anywhere since the trade, but being on the practice squad can’t hurt.
Rivers has a year left on his contract, and an extension seems to be waiting for him at some point. Maybe it’s part of the organization trying to lock Melvin Gordon as well as other key players down, but Rivers will be re-signed, barring some significant injury. Will Rivers take a team discount for other guys that need to be re-signed, or will he opt for a high AAV that passes other quarterbacks?
Overall, the Chargers have a really solid quarterback room. They ultimately go as far as Rivers takes them, but there are interesting wrinkles involved with Taylor, and a potential quarterback of the future in Stick. Grade: A