After 55 years in San Diego, the Chargers are back in Los Angeles, a city that prides itself on winning and doesn’t like waiting on success. So, if the Chargers want to develop fans in LA, they’re going to have to win, and win often.
Having a franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers is a good start. The six-time Pro Bowler has thrown for the eighth-most touchdowns in league history and ranks 12th all-time on the career passing yards list.
But after 13 seasons of playing at a high level for the Chargers, Rivers has a few good years left before retirement comes calling. The 35-year-old signed a four-year extension two offseasons ago that runs through the 2019 season. After that, who knows if Rivers will still be wanting to play, especially in LA, which he was hesitant to do after pledging his loyalty to San Diego.
Asked if the team may be in the market for Rivers’ successor in the upcoming draft, Chargers GM Tom Telesco didn’t rule out the possibility of selecting a quarterback.
“We’re very happy with Philip Rivers, and I think he’s got a number of good years left in him,” Telesco said on NFL Network’s Up To The Minute on Thursday. “We can win with Philip, and we’re happy with him. But since I’ve arrived here, we’ve always done a lot of work on the quarterbacks. You just have to.
“Even though we have our franchise quarterback, we always have to be looking toward the future. It’s work we’ve done every year. We’ll do work on all the quarterbacks. You never say never. You just never know in this business. You have to be prepared in this business, whether you’re picking at No. 7 or if we trade back, it’s just hard to tell right now. We will scout every position like we don’t have someone there, and we’ll make determinations draft day on what we end up doing. But right now we’re very happy with Philip. He’s the leader of this football team, and we feel like we can win with him.”
The Chargers can no doubt win with Rivers under center for the next few years. But after that, then what? LA fans won’t stay faithful through a rebuild. There’s enough of that already in town with the Lakers. Drafting a quarterback to groom behind Rivers is the smart play, maybe even in the first round.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has the Chargers taking Clemson’s Deshaun Watson with the No. 7 pick in his latest mock draft, adding: “The Chargers start preparing for life after Philip Rivers by selecting Watson. He’s not ready to play right away but he’ll have time to sit and learn behind one of the best in the business.”
Watson, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, led his team to the national title game in consecutive seasons and would be the ideal pupil for Rivers to mentor. We’ll see what happens next month during the draft, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Chargers to take a quarterback in the first round.
About Marcelo Villa
Marcelo is an associate editor at The Sports Daily, and has covered the San Diego Chargers for Bleacher Report. He also writes for Sportsdirect Inc.