The Philip Rivers-to-Tennessee rumor has me scratching my head. Frankly, I'm stumped. I simply don't get it. I cannot comprehend it. I don't see the logic anywhere.
So let me get this straight ... A team that has visions of winning double-digit games and making the playoffs is going to trade its quarterback to a rebuilding team for the second overall pick?
Other than that, it's a fantastic concept.
In recent days, we've seen a ton of smoke on the Rivers front. But is there actually any fire?
Many teams in the NFL need a quarterback. So why is Rivers only being linked to the Titans? That's the question that has kept me up at night. That's what raises an eyebrow on the matter.
Although he's not getting any younger and was nicked up at the end of last year, Philip Rivers is still a very good NFL quarterback. Rivers is in the final year of his contract and, as U-T San Diego first reported, the veteran signal-caller has no interest in signing an extension this offseason, reportedly because he wants to wait and see if the franchise truly is destined for a Los Angeles relocation.
Quick question: If Rivers actually were available, wouldn't quarterback-starved teams be lining up for his services? Wouldn't he be linked to the Browns or Bears? Shouldn't the Jets and Redskins get involved? How about the Rams? Would Rivers be the type of quarterback who would garner interest from the Bills, Cardinals, Texans, Buccaneers and even the Bengals? Strangely, we haven't heard much of anything connecting those teams to the five-time Pro Bowler.
One NFC general manager was crystal clear in his explanation for this: "This is all being driven by Rivers."
OK, I'm listening.
He continued, "Nashville is close to where Rivers is from. He's a family man. The Titans need a buzz. They would pay him. His agent (Jimmy Sexton) is (based) in Tennessee."
When another NFC general manager was pressed on the subject, his response was telling: "I checked in on Rivers. It was a quick conversation. (Chargers GM) Tom (Telesco) said he wasn't available. San Diego told me he's not going anywhere."
I quizzed another general manager, this one from the AFC, with a simple text message asking about the rumors. He provided a one-word response: "No."
I asked him to expand.
"There is no chance San Diego trades Rivers. Unless everyone with that team is flat-out lying. And that's not how you drum up a market. So if they are lying, then they are clueless. And I don't think that's the case."
There are two types of teams in the NFL: Those that have a quarterback and those that are searching for a quarterback. The San Diego Chargers have one. And it's a pretty important year for the Bolts. The future of the franchise in San Diego is in doubt. The team wants a new stadium. Do you think the presence of Rivers, a true franchise face, helps or hurts the stadium drive? Obviously, it's a major plus.
With No. 17 under center, the Chargers are clearly in the mix for a playoff slot in 2015. Not just that -- they should look to retake the division. Yes, the Denver Broncos have won the AFC West in each of the last four seasons, and yes, Peyton Manning is back for another campaign. But is he really back? What was that deterioration we saw Peyton experience in the back half of last season? And what are the chances that, in 2016, Manning will be sitting on his couch eating Papa John's Pizza, or maybe some chicken parm? With Rivers at quarterback, San Diego could run this division for the next couple of years (at least). Why rebuild when you have a chance to win now?
But what if Rivers doesn't sign a new contract with the Chargers, whether they're in San Diego or Los Angeles?
Glad you asked. The first NFC GM quoted above told me, "They are keeping him now and will franchise him for the next two years if need be. Wouldn't you?"
In order to win? Absolutely.
Rivers can still play, but he's 33 years old and had back issues last year. Meanwhile, the Titans were absolutely dreadful last year. Tennessee isn't close to being a good team. A second overall pick is a potential boon for the future of a downtrodden franchise. The Titans can draft a top-notch talent or trade down and score multiple picks.
An aging quarterback to Tennessee? Why?
Glad you asked that, too. The aforementioned AFC general manager summed up the impetus for such a move: "Desperation. It ruins teams."
From everything I'm hearing, the Titans' coaching staff doesn't really want to pick Mariota. As mentioned in last week's column on potential Mariota draft dominoes, one AFC general manager told me, "The Titans coaches are studying Mariota, hoping to fall in love because that's what the bosses want." The bosses are aching to add some juice to an anonymous roster. Rivers could be a compromise. But what's the long-term upside there?
NFL Films QB guru Greg Cosell said he would take Mettenberger over Jameis Winston. On my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," Phil Simms -- who knows a thing or two about the position -- told me he believes in Mettenberger and that Tennessee should not be in the quarterback market.
Oh, and the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt raises a significant point: Mettenberger is making a shade over $500,000 this year, while a long-term deal with Rivers would cost about $20 million per year.
Why take on that kind of contract when you might not need a quarterback and arguably do need help everywhere else? Why give up the chance to draft a young impact player with the second overall pick when you are years away from contending?