Philip Rivers believes he still has gas left in the tank. Los Angeles Chargers GM Tom Telesco agrees, but the question is whether that future is in L.A.
"I think he can still compete at a top-starter level," Telesco said of Rivers, via the L.A. Times. "But when you go 5-11 and 0-6 in your division, you have to look at every position."
Rivers recently turned 38 years old, is set to be a free agent in March, and is coming off a down season that saw him throw 20 interceptions. Questions abound as to whether it's time for the Chargers to move on from Rivers after 16 seasons.
Telesco waffled Thursday between praising the veteran signal-caller and noting that all things come to an end at some point.
"In a perfect world, No. 17 is your quarterback forever," Telesco said. "Hopefully, I'm not offending Dan Fouts when I say that. But he's meant everything to this organization. ... He's a joy to work with. Nobody has a better perspective on what goes on with him and the team.
"I can see why he's gonna be a great coach when he's done playing. But we need to get removed from this season a little bit. ... We need to take a step back, take a little time before we make a decision."
The Chargers don't need a coach. Right now, they need a quarterback who can lift a team after another disappointing season.
Telesco said he'd "no doubt" like to resolve Rivers' situation before free agency begins on March 18.
The choices for L.A. are fairly simple. Re-up with Rivers, who insists he has no plans to retire, either by franchise tag or a short-term deal. Move on and sever ties, plowing forward with a veteran like current backup Tyrod Taylor, or one of several other veterans hitting the free-agent market (i.e. Teddy Bridgewater). Either of those decisions would likely be paired with a rookie taken some point high in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Chargers have sniffed around quarterbacks in the draft the past several seasons. Sitting at No. 6 overall, they should be a prime candidate to pluck one this time around.
Telesco noted it's possible that L.A. brings back Rivers for another season and pairs him with a rookie signal-caller.
"Sure," he said. "It's something we've been looking at for years."
Regardless of whether it's Rivers, Taylor or a soup-du-jour signal-caller, it's clear at this point L.A. needs to take a swing high in the draft, likely in the first round. They did so 16 years ago, drafting Eli Manning and trading for Rivers. That plan worked out pretty well for a long time.
Now, whether Rivers remains in L.A. for another year and experiences what Manning went through this season, or the Chargers move on in 2020, the time is now to select a new potential franchise quarterback as they move into a shiny new stadium.