The Chargers would be silly to get rid of Philip Rivers in 2020
By Matt Conner
According to reports, Chiefs fans only have one more chance to watch Philip Rivers suit up as the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers.
If the rumors swirling around Philip Rivers are true, Derek Carr is destined to be the longest-tenured veteran quarterback in the AFC West. That’s because Jason La Canfora is reporting that the Los Angeles Chargers only have a few games left with Rivers at the helm before they’re expected to move on following the 2019 regular season.
This year certainly has not gone as expected for the Chargers, who were once again a favorite preseason flavor for many NFL analysts. Instead the Chargers, once again, suffered a ton of injuries but also failed to live up to their on-paper expectations with a celebrated talent level that never materialized on the field.
Much of the team’s inconsistency and frustrating play can be centered upon their star quarterback, a player with a solid case to be made for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. Rivers threw 4 interceptions against the Chiefs in a close loss on Monday Night Football, and he was coming off of a 3 interception performance from the previous week. He has 14 on the season and has looked like a shell of his former self in several games—perhaps signs that he’s hit a wall as he nears the age of 38.
Here’s the thing: Rivers started this season fairly strong, or at least with much better statistics than what he has put up in the last few weeks. Ever since the team fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the Chargers offense has struggled to get anything moving.
Before this, Rivers was having another decent season on the heels of making the Pro Bowl in each of the last three years. Rivers also has 8 Pro Bowl appearances overall. The team saw a chance to course correct after starting the season at 3-5, but now Rivers looks even worse and the team stands at 4-7 and outside of any realistic chance of making the postseason.
For the Chargers, it makes sense to turn the corner at some point and go with a valued rookie. Given the loaded draft class and the team’s likely draft position, this could be the year to pull the trigger. But that’s also interesting that they would want to shove off the in-house mentor and team legend who could serve as the bridge and insurance to that player’s tenure. Picture Peyton Manning being in place to hand things off to Drew Lock in Denver.
The Chiefs timing might have cost Patrick Mahomes a full season of starting games in the NFL, but that buffer allowed Alex Smith to finish well in K.C., allowed Mahomes to learn at his pace, lowered expectations coming in and kept the team steady as division winners. Maybe Mahomes would have been fine, but to risk that would have ignored the mountain of evidence on other teams that rookies can really struggle when shoved into the role.
Rivers has struggled this year, to be sure, and the team would be wise to bring in further competition as they shift gears toward the future. But it makes little sense to not work out some one-year bridge deal for Rivers that gives him starter money while not breaking the bank for a player who should be content to finish up his career with the same team with whom he started.
Given his performance post-Whisenhunt’s firing and the team’s serious struggles along the front line, Rivers deserves another year under center for the Chargers even as he nears 40. The Chargers can be ready with a long-term Plan B, but there’s little need to clear the slate for a replacement just yet. The future will be here soon enough.