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Is it too early to think about post-Philip Rivers era?

There will come a time when somebody will have to take over for Philip Rivers. Should the Chargers be preparing themselves?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What I am about to write could be considered blasphemy in the minds of San Diego Chargers fans. But its a thought that probably creeps into the back of Chargers minds every once in a while. I am just gonna put it out there and get it out of mine.

Is it time for the Chargers to consider drafting an heir apparent to quarterback Philip Rivers?

It's a good thing I ducked right now, because I just dodge the first tomato thrown at me. So if you don't mind, I'm going to pull out my Gallagher-style rain gear if I have any hope of getting through this column.

Because there will be more.

Let me first start off by saying Phillip Rivers is my favorite QB. Ever. I love his gunslinger mentality. I love that he will throw it in triple coverage if he thinks he can fit it in that window. I love how he distributes the ball to the open man, and seemingly has no favorites. I love his unflappable style. The way he gets into an opponents face and tells him what he thinks without uttering a curse word. And I love that when he does this, you never hear an opponent say a bad thing about him later in the press conference. I love the enthusiasm he exhibits when there's a microphone in front of him. Because by golly, he's the most happiest, optimistic qb in the league. And I'm glad that in 2004 San Diego traded Eli Manning on draft day to get him.

But there is going to be a time when El Capitan will no longer be able to play at a high level anymore. And San Diego needs to have a plan in place. (Whoa, just dodged another tomato!).

And when I say a plan, I'm not talking about a 6th round flyer who may spend the whole season on the practice squad. I'm talking about a legitimate QB prospect you draft in the first 2 or 3 rounds. Somebody that will hold the clipboard on gamedays, but work his butt of because he actually thinks he has a chance to unseat the Chargers starting QB from day 1. (Was that an orange? Are you guys throwing oranges at me now?) Someone who on talent alone can step in and finish a game if Rivers, God forbid, got seriously injured. (Oh man, now you're throwing banana peelings and eggs at me!)

But that's not the only reason to start looking beyond the horizon.

In 2009, Rivers signed a 7-year $98.25 million dollar contract to remain with the Chargers. Simple math shows that Rivers only has 2 more years on his current contract and by the time 2016 rolls around, he will be entering his 13th year and hitting free agency.

Rivers certainly showed that he still has what it takes as evidenced by his 2013 Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year award. His 4,478 yards and 32 touchdown passes were the 3rd and 2nd highest totals in his career respectively. To say new Head Coach Mike McCoy and his new system rejuvenated Rivers career is an understatement.

But it wasn't too long ago that many believed Rivers' career was on the decline. In the last 2 years of the Norv Turner era, Rivers threw 35 interceptions and seemed to do so at the most inopportune time. If, by the time he reaches the end of his contract, Rivers shows signs of reverting back to those ways, fans may begin to whisper for a change. And as it stands now, there is no heir to his throne on the roster.

So, as I take off my rain gear, I will leave you with this: I am not saying the Chargers need to draft this heir apparent in this year's draft or the next. All I am saying is there is going to come a time when San Diego needs to seriously consider the idea. Lets hope its not too late and the Chargers are left standing there with egg on their face.