NBC 7’s Derek Togerson proposes a tough trade for the Chargers in this commentary
This is depressing.
I am about to write something I never would have dreamt I would write and it hurts to have to do it. There’s really no easy way of saying this so let’s just rip the bandage off and not prolong the agony:
It’s time for the Chargers to trade Philip Rivers.
LaDainian Tomlinson said it on NFL Network and at first blush I thought he was nuts. Who trades a franchise quarterback who is still among the best passers in the game and will be for a couple more years? That’s utter idiocy.
Shoot, just last year I was saying how dumb it would have been to trade Rivers for the chance to draft Marcus Mariota. But then the Bolts went 4-12 with him having another phenomenal season and things started to turn.
So I started to think about the idea L.T. threw out there and sure enough, it makes a whole heck of a lot of sense. Listen, I love Philip Rivers. He is one of my favorites of all time. He’s a borderline Hall of Fame talent, a true leader in that locker room who would be a better head coach than the one he’s playing for RIGHT NOW, and one of the best interviews in the entire NFL. I don’t want to see the man go. He’s the one thing that gives San Diego a shot at winning any game against any team in the league.
And yet they continue to lose. The Chargers have mastered wasting wonderful quarterbacks. If you look at the best QB’s of the Super Bowl era that never made it to the championship game, three names easily top the list:
Dan Fouts, Warren Moon, Philip Rivers. Two of those guys played for the San Diego Chargers and never got the supporting cast, from the coaching staff to the 53-man roster, to get to the pinnacle of their sport.
Rivers has given everything he has to this franchise, this city and these fans. At this point don’t we owe it to him to let him go? Rivers needs to be able to compete. The Chargers are in no position to compete. McCoy can’t turn this around. The ownership group can’t seem to get out of its own way.
Now that they’ve lost Keenan Allen, Jason Verrett, Danny Woodhead and Manti Te’o for the season and Antonio Gates and King Dunlap are dealing with injuries with no clear time table the Bolts are the NFL’s version of Sisyphus: no matter how close they get to the top they’re just not going to get over the hump.
Their next four games are against the 3-1 Raiders (in Oakland), the 4-0 Broncos (at home on a short week), the 3-1 Falcons (in Atlanta) and the Broncos again (in Denver). It will be a miracle if the Bolts don’t get through that gauntlet 1-7. So it’s time to let Rivers chase that elusive championship with a franchise that’s ready to do it now, while building the Bolts with more young talent.
I see two teams who are just one QB away from seriously contending. Here is the case for both of them and what the Bolts can get in return.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are 3-1 even though they have scored the second-fewest points in the NFL (just one more than the Titans and Bears). Jeff Fisher does not have the reputation for developing quarterbacks. He lucked out with a rare talent like Steve McNair in Tennessee but since then it’s been a deli line of guys who have had little to no impact in the NFL. They have decent pieces on offense, certainly enough for a guy like Rivers to have success with.
But, you ask, why would they trade for Rivers and his big salary when they just gave away a gaggle of picks to trade up and take Jared Goff first overall? Simple. Goff is not playing yet (possibly because of the previously noted lack of ability to develop quarterbacks) and it doesn’t look like he will any time soon. L.A. gave the Titans its first and third round picks for next year in the trade so the Rams don’t have a first round pick to offer until 2018.
But I’m pretty sure they’d offer up Goff right now, and toss in a couple of 2nd or third round picks in the next two years. The Bolts could get the top overall pick in the 2016 Draft, pair him with renowned QB guru Ken Whisenhunt, and possibly have their franchise guy for the next decade while the Rams would have their best QB since Kurt Warner left and make a serious Super Bowl run.
New York Jets
The Jets are 1-3 and a big problem has been their defense. But with Todd Bowles as head coach they’ll figure that part out. The bigger issue is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has thrown nine interceptions in the last two games alone. Rivers has thrown nine picks in his last 15 games.
The Jets have a dominant receiver in Brandon Marshall, a developing wideout in Quincy Enunwa, and a reliable running back in Matt Forte who would only get better if other teams had to have even a shred of respect for New York’s passing game. Plus Rivers will take a lot of pressure off that defense thinking it has to be perfect to win. It’s not too late to make a postseason push for the Jets.
New York has flexibility in the future, too. They are expecting two to three compensatory draft picks in 2017 so it would not kill them to ante up and trade a few for a guy who would be their best QB since Joe Namath, who was their quarterback the only other time they went to the Super Bowl. The Vikings gave up a first round pick and a fourth round pick for Sam Bradford. With that as the template, the Chargers should get the Jets first and third round picks in 2017, plus a fourth round selection in 2018. That’s steep, but for the chance to win it’s well worth it.
Dark Horse: Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer has a big contract but is also out with a concussion and the redbirds can’t afford to fall too far back in the NFC West. If they’re able to steal a win on Thursday night to get to 2-3 they might be in the market for Rivers. Pairing him with Bruce Arians (something the Chargers should have done in 2013 but they chose McCoy instead without so much as interviewing the reigning NFL Coach of the Year) would put the Cardinals back in the conversation of teams with championship aspirations.
The Broncos probably need a QB, too, but there's no chance the Chargers deal him within the division to let's not even go there.
The Chargers are at the crossroads. The NFL trade deadline is the first week of November, right around election time, and that plays a role in this, too. Trading away their best player is not going to generate a whole lot of goodwill among the fan base and there's no guarantee the extra picks will make the franchise a winner, especially given their recent history of player development. But they need to do something drastic to get the franchise back on the right track.
Plus, Philip deserves a shot at a winner. Let's do him a solid.