This will be different. Whether in San Diego or Los Angeles, right before a Chargers home game the announcer would say, “at quarterback….PHILIP RIVERS!” The crowd would erupt because that was their quarterback.
Now, heading into the 2020 season, no one is quite sure who the Chargers quarterback will be.
After 16 seasons of seeing no. 17 under center, the team and Rivers decided to part ways.
Rivers will hit free agency. The Chargers can sign or draft their next quarterback.
On Tuesday, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco spoke to the media in Indianapolis before the NFL Combine begins.
Both shared the same message -- that the door is wide open on any and every quarterback possibility.
What are they looking for in a quarterback?
"Generally speaking, a lot of attributes that Philip Rivers had," Telesco said. "You want that intangible part, too. It's very important for the quarterback to be able to lead, to have work ethic, preparation skills, handle adversity, all of those skills. That's so important for a quarterback."
Rivers was the quarterback for all seven seasons of Telesco’s tenure. One of Rivers most important attributes was that he had the respect of everyone in the organization. The new quarterback will have to win over their new teammates in a similar manner.
“Right now, we have Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback,” Telesco said. “We’re confident we can win with Tyrod. We’ll look at all the other options that are out there. We’re still early in the process right now. We’re looking for a quarterback we can win with. We think we can win with Tyrod, too.”
Telesco and Lynn have a shared belief in Taylor. Lynn has known the quarterback since 2015 when he was the running backs coach of the Buffalo Bills. Last season they signed the veteran signal caller to a two-year deal.
Since Lynn was hired in 2017 there were a lot of whispers that Philip Rivers didn’t fit his offensive scheme, and that Lynn wanted a mobile quarterback who could move around in the pocket and create plays.
“I’ve heard that, too,” Lynn said. “I prefer a winning quarterback. You don’t have to be mobile. I believe that guy in New England (Tom Brady) won a lot. He’s not very mobile.”
There was the first Tom Brady mention. Rumors this offseason are that if Brady leaves New England the Chargers are a likely destination. Lynn wants to win. Brady has won six Super Bowl rings. Brady could possibly have Hunter Henry, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams to throw to - which is a better group than what Brady had to work with in New England last season.
“Just rumors, I guess,” Lynn said. “I don’t know. All options on the table for us, though.”
The Chargers could look towards New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who had a perfect 5-0 record in Drew Brees’ absence. He threw nine touchdown passes to only two interceptions.
If the Carolina Panthers release or trade Cam Newton, the Chargers could have an interest because of his mobility and arm strength. He also took the Panthers to Super Bowl 50.
Telesco didn’t talk specifics because he doesn’t want to give anything away. He also mentioned that those players aren’t free agents until March 18.
The Bolts could look to the NFL draft to select their next quarterback. The team holds the sixth pick.
There is a lot of quarterback talent in this year’s draft. LSU’s National Champion quarterback Joe Burrow is the headliner. He is from Ohio and many experts expect him to be drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.
There is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, whom everyone remembers from the come-from-behind National Championship win against the Georgia Bulldogs. Tagovailoa is coming off a hip injury that will force him to miss the combine exercises, but he is expected to be cleared to throw in his pro day on April 9. Teams are doing their homework on his injury to make sure he is fully recovered. It was reported he showed up for his medical at 10:00 a.m. and didn’t leave until after 7:00 p.m.
Oregon’s Justin Herbert is a name that pops up as a possibility for the Chargers in a lot of mock drafts. Herbert has a big-time arm and played very well in his two biggest games.
“With Justin, since he’s a senior, we’ve seen a lot of him,” Telesco said. “But like I said with free agents, I don’t like to talk specifically about football players as far as their ability in the draft. Right now, not a great trait for a GM to have before the draft, but I think his track record kind of speaks for itself for what he’s done in his career, and how he did at the end of the season with the (Rose Bowl) game, with the All-Star game (Senior Bowl). He did a real nice job.”
Telesco did not want to go in-depth about all the different directions the team can go. What we do know is that he wants a leader and Lynn wants someone who can win.
The team could go with Newton, or Herbert, or Brady, or Tagovailoa, or they could sign Brady and draft Herbert or start Taylor and draft Tagovailoa.
So many different possibilities.
Free agency is only a month away.