Three years ago, it was unthinkable that the Chargers willfully would cut ties with Rivers. But consecutive mediocre seasons, combined with the reality of new faces at head coach (Mike McCoy) and general manager (Tom Telesco), puts Rivers in a precarious position as he enters his 10th NFL season.
U-T San Diego columnist Kevin Acee summed up the situation during a Wednesday appearance on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft."
"No one will say it, but I think that 2013 is the final audition of Philip Rivers," Acee said.
Acee bases his assumption on the Chargers'decision not to restructure Rivers' contract this offseason despite the team's tight salary-cap situation. Acee says the Chargers' choice to sit tight on Rivers "speaks volumes."
Rivers has committed 47 turnovers over the past two seasons, the most of any player not named Mark Sanchez. The prior regime did Rivers no favors, depleting the cast of playmakers around him while allowing the offensive line to turn to mush. Rivers was sacked 49 times last season. You'd probably be chucking and ducking, too.
If Rivers truly is in "prove it" mode, the Chargers owe it to the quarterback to give him a better support system in 2013. That starts with finding a new left tackle with the 11th overall pick. Providing a better receiver option than Robert Meachem also would help.
We're of the opinion that Rivers has good years left in him. He just can't do it alone, which puts him in the same company as every other quarterback in NFL history.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.