NBC 7's Derek Togerson tackles a tough decision facing the Chargers in this commentary
Now that the Browns have signed Robert Griffin III to a contract there’s a whole lot of speculation that Cleveland will not be looking to take a quarterback with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft.
That speculation proceeds to the belief the Chargers will then have a shot at any of the QB’s in this year’s class and that they would be looking to take one to groom as the future replacement for Philip Rivers.
Allow me say that would be one of the dumbest ideas in the history of Chargers football which, given the history of this franchise, is really saying something.
The case for drafting someone like Carson Wentz (North Dakota State) or Jared Goff (Cal) or Paxton Lynch (Memphis) is made with multiple points. We will make that point, and then offer the counterpoint:
POINT: “Take the best player on your board!” After Wentz held his pro day at NDSU some scouts where frothing at the mouth with hyperbole like, “He’s every bit as athletic as Andrew Luck or Cam Newton,” or, “One of the best pro days I’ve ever witnessed. Wentz reminds me of Joe Flacco.” If you can get a player like that, why would you NOT take him, right? Here’s why.
COUNTERPOINT: The Chargers already have Philip Rivers at QB so anyone the team drafts is not going to see the field for a while. Rivers is signed for four years. First round rookie contracts last four years with team options for a fifth year. If Philip plays out the entirety of his deal then you’ll have paid Wentz (or Goff or Paxton) four years of number three overall pick money to hold a clipboard.
POINT: Take a QB and have him learn for a year under Rivers then cut Philip. OK, you’ve got one heck of a tutor for your new franchise signal-caller and Philip is the kind of guy who truly would try and help a youngster develop. Could be a win-win.
COUNTERPOINT: $$$$$. Releasing Rivers in any of his first three years of the deal will result in a monster dead salary cap number. A team that went 4-12 can’t really afford to have money tied up on a player who’s helping another team.
POINT: OK then take a QB, have him apprentice with Rivers and then trade him. Philip would get a bounty of picks in return and that would help fill all the holes on this roster. Or, trade the young QB. Another team is undoubtedly going to come calling for a young, talented quarterback at some point and if you have a bounty of them you’re dealing from a position of strength.
COUNTERPOINT: This makes something resembling sense. A guy like Rivers would turn a really good team in to a Super Bowl contender. Can you imagine what the Texans would have given up to get a guy like Philip for last season? They’d have been right in the hunt for the AFC Championship and they knew it, so that could have resulted in a first and a couple of second-round selections. Next off-season there is bound to be a team in the same boat who would like to swing a deal so I’ll concede this is a bit of good reasoning. As for trading the new guy, are you really going to get something back that’s commensurate with the #3 overall selection? Not a chance.
POINT: Look how well taking a QB when they didn’t really need it worked for the Packers and Broncos. If the Bolts see Wentz as a generational talent they’d be stupid to not bring him in to replace their aging superstar quarterback.
COUNTERPOINT: Completely different situation. The Packers only took Aaron Rodgers because he inexplicably fell to them with the 24th pick and at that point Rodgers was far and away the best guy on their big board. They were not targeting a new QB. Denver took Brock Osweiler in the second round in 2012, the same year they signed Peyton Manning. One of the reasons they did that was Manning was coming off neck surgery and they still weren’t 100% sure his body would hold up for the long-term. The Chargers are not in either one of those spots.
POINT: The Chargers are getting younger at most of the other positions on the field, might as well have them all do it at once so continue the youth movement at quarterback and REALLY look to the future.
COUNTERPOINT: There’s a saying when you’re out on the open ocean and you get a few bites but think maybe there’s a bigger school of yellowfin somewhere else: “Don’t leave fish to find fish.” The Chargers have a proven commodity in Rivers who’s locked up for four more years. If the Bolts use the third overall pick to draft his distant future replacement they have effectively wasted a chance to get a Pro Bowl-caliber player at a different position that actually needs help.
There are other considerations but the ones we addressed are the biggest. I have no problem with using a late-round pick on a developmental QB (as long as Tom Telesco keeps any of those picks this year). The Patriots did pretty well for themselves a few years back doing just that. I mean, where would they be without the time they spent with Matt Cassel?