On Tuesday, the deadline for NFL teams to pick up the fifth-year options for first-round selections from the 2014 NFL draft. Twenty-three players have had their options picked up by their respective teams. Nine players have had their options declined by their respective teams. Those nine players will be unrestricted free agents in the 2018 offseason.
Here’s a refresher of Round One from the 2014 NFL Draft. Draft table provided courtesy of WikiPedia:
As you can see, quite a few stars were born in that draft class whom have become household names today. Odell Beckham Jr., Kahlil Mack, Jadaveon Clowney, Mike Evans, Ryan Shazier, Jason Verrett, Aaron Donald and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix headline the make-good stories from 2014. Suffice it to say those players have all had their options picked up by their respective teams.
This draft will also be known for being the year a brash, young gunslinger named Johnny Manziel was selected. Partying and flashing his signature ‘money’ finger gesture proved to be more important than showing up to practice and putting the needed work in to succeed.
Today, no one knows where he is and more sadly, no one cares. Manziel will forever be a bust and a cautionary tale to all first-round draft picks that just because you’ve been selected; it doesn’t mean you’ve made it. Listed below are the nine Class of 2014 players who will not be with their original teams once the 2017-2018 season comes to an end.
Greg Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Calvin Pryor, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Kyle Fuller, Marcus Smith, Dominique Easley and Justin Gilbert.
Who from this list, if anyone, would you like to see the Bolts pursue in 2018? Post your thoughts below.
The Greg One
The NFL regular season starts in just under two months. The 2016 schedule has the Chargers facing the AFC South, NFC South, the Miami Dolphins (AFC East) and the Cleveland Browns (AFC North).
Below is a breakdown of their 2016 opponents.
Week 1: @Kansas City Chiefs
2015 Record: 11-5, 2nd AFC West
Offense: 27th overall
Defense: 7th overall
The Chiefs started 2015 slow, losing five straight games. They ended the season winning 10 straight and won their first playoff game in 20 years. The running game should be solid for the Chiefs in 2016. Jamaal Charles is coming back from an ACL injury. Along with his fellow running backs, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, KC sports one of the best backfields in the NFL.
Week 2: Jacksonville Jaguars
2015 Record: 5-11, 3rd AFC South
Offense: 18th overall
Defense: 24th overall
The Jaguars had a less than stellar season, placing third in the worst division in the NFL in 2015. Jacksonville only won one road game last year. The Jags took to the draft to help beef up their defense by signing defensive players with their first five picks, including DB Jalen Ramsey from Florida State and LB Myles Jack from UCLA.
Week 3: @Indianapolis Colts
2015 Record: 8-8, 2nd AFC South
Offense: 28th overall
Defense: 26th overall
The Colts had a 3-5 record in the first half of the 2015 season, losing starting quarterback Andrew Luck in Week 8. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and journeyman signal caller Josh Freeman went 5-3 in the second half, but it still was not enough to win the division. If Andrew Luck can stay healthy in 2016, the Colts could make improvements on offense. They drafted a much-needed center, Ryan Kelly from Alabama, with the 18th pick overall.
Week 4: New Orleans Saints
2015 Record: 7-9, 3rd NFC South
Offense: 2nd overall
Defense: 31st overall
The Saints were a very lopsided team in 2015. Their offense averaged 403.8 yards and 25.5 points per game, but their defense allowed an average of 413.8 yards and 29.8 points per game. That is clearly not a recipe for success. The Saints should continue to have a stellar offense with veteran Drew Brees at quarterback.
Week 5: @Oakland Raiders
2015 Season: 7-9, 3rd AFC West
Offense: 24th overall
Defense: 22nd overall
The Raiders made some improvements last year in an attempt to have their first winning season since losing the Super Bowl in 2003, but fell short, again. Their 7-9 record was an improvement considering they have averaged only 4.9 wins a season in the last 13 years. The Raiders will probably continue to improve in 2016. They have a young team lead by third-year quarterback Derek Carr. Don’t sleep on the Raiders in 2016.
Week 6: Denver Broncos
2015 Season: 12-4, 1st AFC West
Offense: 16th overall
Defense: 1st overall
The Broncos won the division — again — for the fifth consecutive season and went on to win Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning had his worst season, finishing with only nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 10 games. The stellar Broncos’ defense allowed an average of only 283.1 yards and 18.5 points per game. The Broncos are bringing back pretty much the same defense in 2016. The retirement of Manning brings veteran Mark Sanchez, back-up quarterback Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch fighting for the starting position. Rumor has it that Sanchez and Siemian are neck-and-neck in the fight to win the job.
Week 7: @Atlanta Falcons
2015 Season: 8-8, 2nd AFC South
Offense: 7th overall
Defense: 16th overall
The Falcons started out the 2015 season hot, winning six of their first eight games. The second half was the exact opposite, as they went 2-6. One of the two wins in the second half was against their division rival, and eventual Super Bowl runner-up, the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons drafted strong safety Keanu Neal from Florida with the 17th overall pick to boost their struggling defense.
Week 8: @Denver Broncos
See week six.
Week 9: Tennessee Titans
2015 Season: 3-13, 4th AFC South
Offense: 30th overall
Defense: 12th overall
The Titans looked like a sleeper team in Week 1 of the 2015 season, when they won 42-14 against the Tampa Bay Bucs, led by 2nd overall pick, Marcus Mariota, who had 209 yards, four touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Despite Mariota’s success in Week 1, the Titans ended up with the worst record in 2015, averaging only 311.8 yards and 18.7 points per game. It will be hard to do much worse in 2016, but anything is possible.
Week 10: Miami Dolphins
2015 Season: 6-10, 4th AFC East
Offense: 26th overall
Defense: 25th overall
The Dolphins were led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who averaged 263 passing yards per game and had 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. While those numbers aren’t terrible, his offensive line could not keep him standing up, as he was sacked 45 times. The Titans could fare better in 2016 when it comes to sacks with the signing of offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil from Ole Miss.
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: @Houston Texans
2015 Season: 9-7, 1st AFC South
Offense: 19th overall
Defense: 3rd overall
The Texans started the season off rocky, going 3-5 in the first half of the season but turned it around in the second half, only losing two games. The third ranked defense allowed only an average of 19.6 points for game and even had five games where their opponent only scored six points. The Texans liked what they saw when Brock Osweiler took over the quarterback duties for the Broncos and signed him to be their starter in 2016. This move could either make them or break them.
Week 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2015 Season: 6-10, 4th NFC South
Offense: 5th overall
Defense: 10th overall
The Buccaneers should have had a better record in 2015 since they had a top-10 overall offense and defense. Stats don’t always show the big picture, especially considering their offense averaged 375.9 yards per game, but only 21.4 points per game. The defense allowed an average of 340.4 yards per and 26.4 points per game. The Bucs took to their coaching staff to bring change, naming Dirk Koetter as the new head coach, replacing Lovie Smith, along with Mike Smith as the new defensive coordinator and Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator.
Week 14: @Carolina Panthers
2015 Season: 15-1, 1st NFC South
Offense: 11th overall
Defense: 6th overall
The Panthers had an explosive offense in 2015, leading the league with 500 total points and an average of 31.3 points per game. Their offense, lead by quarterback Cam Newton, was not able to fare well against the best defense in the league and lost the Super Bowl to the Broncos, scoring only 10 points. The Panthers will be without DB Charles Tillman, who recently announced his retirement after 13 years in the league. They signed former Chargers punter Mike Scifres to a one-year deal.
Week 15: Oakland Raiders
See week five.
Week 16: @ Cleveland Browns
2015 Season: 3-13, 4th AFC North
Offense: 25th overall
Defense: 27th overall
For the fourth straight year, the Browns were in last place in their division. The quarterback situation in Cleveland was their biggest downfall in 2015. The off-field antics of quarterback Johnny Manziel had the Browns switching the starting positions between the former first-round draft pick and Josh McCown. The Browns lost their best wide receiver, Travis Benjamin, to the Chargers during free agency. They went to the draft in hopes of replacing him, drafting five wide receivers, including Corey Coleman from Baylor with the 15th overall pick.
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs
See week one.
The Chargers only face four teams with a winning record last year, but two of the four of those teams are the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. They will face two teams with a .500 season and seven teams with a losing season in 2015, including the Oakland Raiders.
The schedule seems pretty easy — on paper — and I predict that they will definitely win more than four games this season. The Chargers play in a tough division and will need to win some of those games to be contenders in 2016.
Thanks for reading!
On Thursday, a blockbuster trade was announced between the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans. In the deal, the Titans sent their first overall pick (1), and their fourth- and sixth-round picks to St. Louis. In return, the Rams sent Tennessee their first-round selection (15), two second-round picks and a third-round selection in the 2016 draft. In addition, the Rams include their first- and third-round picks in 2017.
Nevermind free agency, this is the best thing to happen to the San Diego Chargers this offseason. This mega-deal comes down to three main points:
1. The Rams are preparing to select their quarterback of the future. They need to continue the momentum from the euphoria of moving back to Los Angeles by adding star power. They need to stay in the news in a city like Los Angeles, which is not starving for sports selections. Every major league sport is now represented in Los Angeles with the return of the NFL. L.A. is about box office. The Rams may have a future star with Rookie of the Year running back Todd Gurley, but if there aren’t enough big names on the marquee, the fickle L.A. audience will forget you sooner rather than later. Adding the top quarterback in the draft will address their biggest need and be another name to add to the marquee.
2. The top two picks in the draft will be quarterbacks. The Cleveland Browns select second in the draft and need a quarterback as badly or worse than the Rams do. North Dakota State signal caller Carson Wentz and California Bear Jared Goff are the consensus top-two quarterback prospects in this draft. They will be the first and second picks, the only question is the order in which they will be selected.
Is it possible the Browns could choose a player other than a quarterback with the second pick?
If the Browns are smart they will stay at two and pick their quarterback. If they were choosing anyone other than a quarterback then wise thing to do would be to trade out of the second spot for a nice boatload of picks like the Titans and add starter-quality players to their decrepit team. Then again, we are putting the Browns and smart in the same sentence. This is, after all, the team that burned the second of their two first-round picks on Johnny Manziel only two drafts ago.
3. San Diego will get the No. 1 player on their draft board. Despite what happens with the Cleveland pick, the odds of anything happening aside from Goff and Wentz going in the first two picks are slim and none. Thankfully, the Chargers do not need a quarterback, meaning they will have their choice of the entire draft field to choose from. With eight picks to use over seven rounds, they not only have the top of each round to select the best player available, they have the maneuverability to re-enter a round to accommodate a player who is falling or trade down for value.
The draft truly begins with the Chargers selection. The pressure is on GM Tom Telesco and his braintrust to not screw up this pick. After being left at the altar by the league in the race to L.A. sweepstakes, and not being able to come to an agreement with Rams owner Stan Krownke on co-habitation of the future L.A. mega-stadium, the Bolts should add Kroenke to their Christmas card list.
This trade assures order at the top of the draft. It assures the Chargers the pick of the litter of non-quarterback skill- position players. It’s assures the Bolts a King’s ransom for those other quarterback-hungry teams wishing to jump ahead of other quarterback-hungry teams sitting in the top half of the draft. (Think San Francisco, Philadelphia and possibly Dallas sitting at picks 7, 13 and 4, respectively).
The ball sits in the Bolts’ court. Who should they give it to? Leave your thoughts on whom they should select below.
The Greg One
The 2015 football season has spiraled downhill for the San Diego Chargers. Despite all the issues going on away from the field, there was always the actual game to look forward to. When the game is on, all else fades into the background for three hours.
Thirteen games and a 3-10 season record later, all the off the field issues have spilled over onto the sanctuary of the field as well. Players are crestfallen, reduced to nothing more than playing for pride in this, their worst season since 2003 where the Chargers finished 4-12.
Looming largest of all is the ongoing Los Angeles relocation effort spearheaded by the NFL front office. The league is bent on reclaiming the Los Angeles market and the Chargers are frontrunners to be chosen to do so. Efforts from the community and city officials have been lackluster. According to Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Bolts have not provided a viable plan to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
Anything can happen in the NFL. Carolina can be the last undefeated team in the league. Johnny Manziel can win and lose the starting quarterback job for the Cleveland Browns in less than a week. There are not one but two divisions in the NFL where not a single team has a winning record. That being said, the only thing left to question for the Chargers is the day the moving trucks arrive.
If that is indeed the case, then Sunday’s tilt against the Miami Dolphins will be the final home game of the San Diego Chargers. The whispers that swirled around Chargers park every offseason for the past 14 years have become roars and no player is immune to it. Every play knows this is their curtain call before the home crowd in San Diego.
Said quarterback Philip Rivers in a press conference this week:
“I’ll probably soak it in on the drive over there a little more than the past hundred-something times I’ve done it before a game. Because it could get emotional thinking about it, riding down that hill for the last time to this stadium.”
Antonio Gates was brought into San Diego as an undrafted free agent and will retire a first ballot Hall-Of-Famer. Said Gates:
“Obviously, San Diego has been phenomenal to me, I’ve played in San Diego my whole career. All I know right now is I’ve got one game left in Qualcomm, and I want to make the most of it. I’m going to go out and play it like any other game. I’m going to do the same thing from a preparation standpoint. Obviously, the assumption is that we’re going into this game to win. That’s my only concern. And if this is our last game, who knows what the future holds, but I want to make it my best game, a game to remember.”
Defensive captain Eric Weddle is the fourth-longest tenured Chargers after Rivers, Gates and punter Mike Scifres. Said Weddle to reporters:
“For us as players, we don’t have any idea or clue what’s going on, so we’re blind just like everybody else. So what we hear is what we hear from the outside. It’s unfortunate. It’s a great city, great fans. I wish we were better and could put a better product out there for them. But you are what you are. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to give it our all for them one last time if it is our last game.”
Win or lose, expect the Chargers to stay after the game and inhale being a San Diego Charger on their home field one last time. The players are as unsure of their moving status as we are but they’re not taking the gravity of the moment for granted. Expect an intense, inspired team hell-bent on winning their final home game. It will be a colossal success or an abject failure from trying too hard and making mistakes. There will be no in-between.
If you’re a Bolts fan, forget about how the season has played out. Show your appreciation to the team and come to the game. Tune in from home. Don’t give up hope that the team will stay, until the moving trucks do in fact arrive. Wear your lightning bolts with pride Bolt Nation. This is still our team.
The Greg One
The Chargers return home to Qualcomm Stadium with a 1-2 record and two terrible games on the road. After winning their opener over the Lions, the Bolts have lost consecutive games against the Bengals and Vikings.
The Browns also come in at 1-2, but they have a starting quarterback dilemma. Despite a strong performance by Johnny Manziel, head coach Mike Pettine decided to go back to Josh McCown as the starter.
Needless to say, San Diego knows exactly who their quarterback is.
Here are my three keys for the Chargers to walk away with a victory in Week 4 over the Browns.
1.) Run the ball
The Browns come in ranked dead last in the NFL in run defense, allowing a league-high 158.3 yards per game. The Chargers need to take advantage of that and get Melvin Gordon heavily involved in the game plan. If the Chargers can run the ball, and run the ball very effectively, winning the time of possession battle, I feel very confident that they will come away with a victory at the Q.
2.) Keep Philip Rivers off of the turf
What I mean by this is, do whatever you can to protect your investment. This ties back into my first key, and that’s run the ball. The last two weeks Rivers has been hit 21 times. That is far too often for your franchise signal caller to be laying on the field, staring up at the sky. Keep Philip upright and let him do his thing, and that’s dissecting defenses and moving the ball downfield.
3.) Get to the quarterback
In three weeks of the 2015 NFL season, the San Diego Chargers have eight quarterback hits with only one of those being a sack. One. That’s tied for last with the Miami Dolphins. This defense (and most importantly, John Pagano) needs to bring blitzes and get McCown or Manziel thinking fast, thinking early and panicking. The defense cannot allow a QB to sit in the pocket for an extended amount of time and pick apart your secondary. No matter how good the secondary is, it cannot cover and will not cover for three seconds every passing play. Bring the blitz, get some pressure, get a few sacks and things will be looking good.
Do you guys agree with my keys to victory? Let me know in the comments.
The San Diego Chargers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. With the words of franchise quarterback Philip Rivers ringing in their ears, they know they have a choice to make.
To paraphrase, Rivers said he’s going to play out his contract, which concludes at the end of the upcoming season, and what happens next happens. He has no interest in playing in Los Angeles and he’s simply going to focus on this season. His decision to play any further for the Chargers rests on what happens with the stadium issue and relocation to Los Angeles.
What’s a front office to do?
The rumor mill has been abuzz with talk of the Chargers possibly trading Rivers to Tennessee in exchange for the number two pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, affording them the ability to draft Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to be the new quarterback of the Chargers. Other rumors are circulating about Rivers being dealt other places and for any combination of picks and players but that’s all they are, rumors.
Would the Chargers front office really trade Philip Rivers?
We all know football is a business before all things. No player is untouchable. Anyone can and has been traded. All-time legends of the game like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, Ronnie Lott, Deion Sanders, Brett Favre and countless others all saw phenomenal careers end in a jersey other than the one they were drafted in. The Chargers are well within their rights to do their due diligence in searching out options in case Rivers decides to leave if the Chargers relocate.
Obtaining Mariota with the second pick and then a game changing running back like Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley with the 17th pick has to look attractive on many levels. It’s a hyper speed rebuild with the intent of keeping up with the Joneses (Denver) at the same time. The Chargers would be taking two of the most dominant players at their position in college football over the last four years, rolling the dice and hoping to come up roses.
Here’s the problem. They’re still rookies. It’s still too much to ask them to take on such a huge task and expect immediate results. Quarterback and running back are arguably the two most difficult positions to come in and be the day one starter. There will be growing pains. There will be flashes of brilliance some days and startling ineptitude in others until they adjust to the game at the NFL level and some gifted players coming out of college never do. Ask Johnny Manziel how easy it is to go from being a big shot quarterback in college to playing against NFL defenses.
That is the very reason San Diego should not entertain the thought of trading Philip Rivers.
Rivers is the face of the franchise. He is the Captain, the undisputed leader of the team. As he goes, the Chargers go. No team feeds off their quarterback more than San Diego. Rivers has been the consummate team player. Seemingly every offseason the Chargers revise his contract to free cap space to sign players and he does so without complaint. He’s the first man in the facility and the last to leave. Rivers is the player every man in the locker room, rookie or veteran, can look up to and draw inspiration from. Philip Rivers is the heartbeat and the soul of the Chargers and the San Diego fan base.
In the San Diego county, Rivers has made himself at home and become a pillar of the community. He is a role model. Never do you hear of him getting into trouble at the club, getting arrested, bashing media or rival players in social media or falling prey to any other trapping of success afforded to a multi-millionaire athlete. Rivers began a humble son-of-a-coach and has stayed that way. He comes with a blue collar mentality. A true grinder in every sense of the word, he shows up with the traditional lunch pail and hard hat in hand, leaves it all on the field and quietly goes home to his family at the end of the day.
If only more players would follow his example….
I feel a strong connection to Rivers on a number of levels. Being born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina I literally grew up on the N.C. State campus. I saw all of Rivers games at NCSU. There hadn’t been a successful quarterback out of N.C. State since Roman Gabriel back in the 60’s. Logically, Rivers became my favorite player and I was elated when the Chargers fleeced the New York Giants in the Eli Manning fiasco to bring Rivers to my favorite pro football team in 2004.
Few players are more fun to watch than Rivers. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He feels the way we feel sitting in the stands watching the action unfold before us. We live through him. Ironically, I have to admit, Marcus Mariota is my favorite college player since Rivers. Mariota shows the same poise, accuracy, score at any moment capability Rivers did in college. All eyes stay on him and he does not shy away from the big stage. Mariota is going to be an amazing pro and the Chargers have every right to wine and dine him and work him out. That being said, I don’t want Mariota if the cost is Philip Rivers.
It is alarming the Chargers haven’t made significant strides to assure the fan base that Rivers isn’t going anywhere. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. GM Tom Telesco has said he wants to do everything to make sure Rivers retires a Charger. We’re all wise to front office speak by now and what happens at the draft will speak volumes.
I will be attending the draft in person with my Rivers jersey on as it is every year on day one. A nightmare scenario will be hearing that the front office pulled the trigger and sent Rivers to Nashville. Soul crushing would be the phrase that comes to mind. I grew up a Chargers fan. I bleed Navy and Gold. I thought nothing would ever change my allegiance to the one team I hold on a pedestal above all others regardless of sport.
However, I find my faith has been shaken. I’ve honestly had to sit down and reevaluate my allegiance to the Chargers if a trade were to happen.
One man is not bigger than the team but Philip Rivers is the embodiment of the San Diego Chargers. A move like this would make me question the decision making of the front office. Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. Ask the Browns, Jets, Cardinals, Rams, Titans, Raiders how hard it is to find a quarterback you can rely on day in day out, year in year out. Once you get out of the top ten quarterbacks in the league every team remaining would give anything to have a signal caller as great as Rivers.
To trade Rivers means they have given up all hope on keeping him even if they have signed and sealed documents confirming a move to L. A. sitting on their desk. It means they’re not willing to exhaust all avenues to convince him to stay. I know a lot of this rests on Rivers shoulders also, he is not without blame in this. Philip has painted the Chargers front office into quite a corner. However, aside from Rivers himself coming out and telling the world through TV, newspaper or radio that he is asking to be traded will I be able to forgive the Chargers brass for letting him go.
What are the Lakers without Kobe? Nothing. What would the 90’s Chicago Bulls have been without Michael Jordan? Nothing. What are the Patriots without Tom Brady? Nothing. What are the Chargers without Philip Rivers?…
Would YOU remain a Chargers fan if Rivers gets traded Thursday?
After long thought on the matter I arrived at this conclusion: I have been a Chargers fan since day one and that was three and a half decades ago. The Chargers are part of who I am. I have seen them all come and go both ceremoniously and unceremoniously. I have seen good, bad and inbetween. Without the Chargers I am a man without a country sports-wise. There’s no NBA team, no baseball team, no college team aside from my Alma Mater, N.C. State, that I root for nearly as feverishly. Leaving my Chargers would be like losing a family member.
I’ve been in the trenches with this team too long. I’m past the point of no return with this team. I want my casket to be in Chargers colors and the date(s) we win the Super Bowl to be inscribed upon it. Love won’t allow me to leave but I understand more practical, less emotionally invested fans leaving the Chargers ranks over a move like this. Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that.
The Greg One
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is not certain where he’ll be playing in 2016 and not just because of the team’s shaky stadium situation in San Diego.
In case you missed it, Rivers talked with the U-T San Diego about his future with the team.
Basically said he’s committed to playing out his contract with the Bolts, which expires after the 2015 season, but is unsure whether he’ll sign a new contract or try to work out an extension before training camp starts in July.
One of the reasons is, of course, family. Philip and his wife Tiffany have built a family in San Diego and if a move is necessary they will likely try to make it back South (both are from Alabama) instead of Los Angeles.
Add that revelation to the fact the Chargers are bringing in Oregon QB Marcus Mariota for a workout in April, and all of a sudden you have grounds for some serious speculation on a major overhaul of the Chargers offense.
So, let’s remove the emotion from the situation and sort some of it out logically.
First and foremost, the Chargers want to keep Rivers in place. General Manager Tom Telesco came from Indianapolis. His first year there was 1998, when the Colts drafted Peyton Manning. His last year there was 2012, when they took Andrew Luck. If anybody understands the importance of having a franchise quarterback in place, it’s Telesco (You can hear for yourself how Tom feels about Rivers in the video attached to this story, which was recorded December 31, 2014).
Telesco says he thinks Rivers has a number of good years left in him. The recent signings of Stevie Johnson and Orlando Franklin would suggest the Bolts still consider Rivers the key to their offense. For now, at least. Telesco also said he’s committed to Rivers retiring as a Charger.
But, what if Rivers is not? Then what do the Chargers do?
Bolts fans don’t have to think too far back to see what happened the last time the team let a QB walk out of town while getting nothing in return. In about 10 years they’ll see it on the bust of Drew Brees in Canton, OH. Rivers blossoming into a star eased the pain of Brees’ success, but the odds of having three Pro Bowl (and possibly Hall of Fame) caliber passers in a row are astronomical.
Here’s where Mariota enters the mix.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is going to have a private workout for the Bolts’ brass. Mariota’s athletic skill set could not be more different than Rivers, but having him learn for a year under #17 (who has already spent time coaching the youngster before the NFL Combine) would not be a bad thing.
If Telesco gets the vibe he’s not going to be able to retain Rivers long-term, he needs to be looking out for his franchise, and he could certainly do worse than adding someone as talented as Mariota.
Of course, that opens the question of … how would the Chargers get their hands on Mariota? He’s projected to be long gone before the Bolts make their selection in this year’s Draft (and no, the irony of that pick being #17 has not been lost). So, the Chargers would have to make a trade up.
Assuming Tampa Bay selects Jameis Winston first overall (which they’ve said publicly they’re leaning towards), the next team up also has serious QB issues: Tennessee. The Titans are quite the interesting possibility.
Ken Whisenhunt is their head coach. In 2013, he had a tremendous relationship with Rivers while serving as San Diego’s offensive coordinator. He would love to get his hands on Philip. However, sources close to the Titans tell me they’d be “shocked” if Tennessee traded the second overall pick for Rivers.
The Titans have a bunch of holes to fill. They are not one QB away from being true contenders. So, if they do deal the number two pick, it will be to stockpile other picks, and the Chargers are not likely to make that kind of gamble when they have as many issues to address as they do (o-line, d-line, running back, linebacker, etc.).
Looking at the rest of the NFL Draft order, there aren’t many teams who will use a pick on a quarterback:
3) Jacksonville – took Blake Bortles last year
4) Oakland – took Derek Carr last year
5) Washington – still don’t know what to do with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy
6) NY Jets – ABSOLUTELY NEED A QB
7) Chicago – Possibility here. Jay Cutler could be released in another year
8) Atlanta – Matt Ryan
9) NY Giants – Eli Manning
10) St. Louis – just traded for Nick Foles but still a possibility
11) Minnesota – took Teddy Bridgewater last year
12) Cleveland – took Johnny Manziel last year
13) New Orleans – Drew Brees
14) Miami – Ryan Tannehill, although it’s possible they’re not 100% sold on him
15) San Francisco – Colin Kaepernick, basically the same style as Mariota
16) Houston – definitely in the market for a QB
So, the Chargers might not have to deal Rivers to get their hands on Mariota. If he falls far enough in the first round, they could conceivably move up just a couple of spots and not sacrifice too much (of course, the Eagles are lurking at #20 and, despite what Chip Kelly says about Sam Bradford, he’d make a more for his former recruit).
So you see there are a lot of moving pieces in play that would have to line up for Marcus Mariota to land in San Diego.
The other part of this whole scenario is this: The Chargers offense is built around Philip Rivers. If he is shockingly dealt before this year, or allowed to leave after the 2015 season, a whole lot of guys will go with him.
Antonio Gates, also a free agent, will leave. Eric Weddle, also a free agent, will leave. Those guys are not going to wait around for a rebuild; they’ve been through enough already. The entire identity of the Chargers, the franchise as we know it, will cease to exist. It will signal a complete personality change for the franchise.
Now, you can crack your jokes about that being perfect for a team playing in a new city, but the fact is this is a defining moment in Chargers history, not just off the field, but on it, as well.
We’re two days away from Thursday’s NFL Draft. I’m looking forward to returning to New York City for a second year in a row with all intention of getting some great interviews, photos and coverage for you, loyal BoltBlitz readers.
We’re all looking forward to seeing what the Chargers will do in the draft and if GM Tom Telesco can have as successful a draft as he did last year. This is shaping up to be a very exciting draft, full of twists and turns. In my opinion, there will be far more wheeling and dealing than we saw last year. Here are some of my observations of what we will see over the draft’s three days.
Houston will take Johnny Manziel. The talk out of Houston is about everyone but Manziel, which usually means they’re most likely picking him. They will be smart and trade out of the number one spot with Atlanta or Oakland, adding an extra pick and taking Manziel at 5 or 6. Houston’s biggest weakness is the quarterback position and the most famous/best quarterback in the state of Texas is Manziel. A pick for Johnny Football will bring people back to the stadium, get cash registers ringing and sell season tickets at a nauseating rate. This is the perfect professional and financial fit for the Texans, and the buzz will make their fans forget all about Matt What’sHisName.
San Francisco will trade into the top ten. The 49ers have 11 picks in this draft and there is no way they use them all. Eleven picks would take up 20% of their opening day roster. San Francisco is desperate for a big-time wide receiver to play opposite Michael Crabtree. No to mention they’re looking for the heir apparent to Anquan Boldin, who is still productive but only has a year or two left in the tank at age 33, a geezer by NFL standards. Don’t be surprised if they package three of their picks to jump ahead of Tampa and claim Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans.
Picking at 25, my gut instinct says San Diego will pick Louis Nix III. The biggest hole on the team is at nose tackle where they only have one player who could play the position if they had to play a game today, Sean Lissemore. Nix is the most pure nose tackle in the draft, often compared to Vince Wilfork. If Nix is gone, I think the Chargers will trade out of the first round with a team that wants to re-enter the draft such as the quarterback-needy teams like Cleveland, Tampa Bay or Oakland.
Dallas will move out of their spot at 16 and overdraft a player they could have had in the second round. Such is life when Jerry Jones runs the war room. Dumb things happen.
At least two big name veteran players will be dealt during the draft.
Six quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round.
Five teams will not pick in their designated slot so that means at least five trades, three of them involving the top ten slots.
Last season, the Chargers had a groundbreaking draft and I can’t help but give myself some credit for bringing some good Chargers karma into the building. Remember the commercial about superstitious fans? That’s me. I’m going to try to find the same seat I was in last year!
I’m looking forward to bringing you live coverage, blogs and hopefully some great interviews. I will be live-tweeting as long as the battery on my iphone holds out. RCMH is a drafty, cavernous building that seems to sap the life out of cell phones with alarming speed. I will not be opposed to the NFL moving the draft to a different venue such as Honolulu or Las Vegas maybe….hmmm. Are you listening, Mr. Goodell?
Stay tuned, Chargers fans. Here’s hoping the Chargers war room yields results as good or better than last year!
The Greg One
Despite what many of us would consider to be a difficult time – waiting this long for the draft to occur, that is – we are less than a week from the NFL’s premiere offseason activity. The cattle call that is the NFL draft will be taking place before you know it. I’ll be in New York City in the blink of an eye. I’m on a plane as we speak, heading to Charlotte to see my amazing children. Then it’s time to take over NYC and the NFL draft. ( Editor’s Note: I began writing this on 5/3)
This is a big year for the Chargers and Tom Telesco. After having what many of us consider to be a solid 2013 draft class, the hope is to replicate last year’s success. Telesco nailed three potential first rounders in the first three rounds of the draft in his first go-around as an NFL GM. Perhaps, the expectation level increases knowing that a player like Stevie Williams, a fifth-round selection, has yet to play in a regular season game. Tourek Williams made the occasional play as well, despite being a sixth round pick. Additionally, Brad Sorensen managed to stay on the ’13 roster as the third quarterback. That could say a lot about what the team has in mind for the former Southern Utah signal caller.
I find it safe to say that the 2013 draft was a success. And, I think that most people in here would agree. But does that put even more pressure on Telesco to trump his rookie attempt at building the team through the draft? Sure, I can get behind that kind of thinking.
Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The NFL did a great job, in my opinion, of mixing up the prospects. So, the question remains, and I’ll leave it to you, is the next Charger going to be an invitee to Radio City Music Hall? Popular mock draft choices landing in America’s finest city such as Louis Nix III and Kyle Van Noy were not invited ( That is according to the above list which is credited to NFL.com).
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.