We should talk.
Due to my own interests, and the way I tend to care about football, and the way in which I've built the BFTB staff....there are certain things that BFTB does well. There are also certain things we should probably work on (but don't want to).
Film breakdown, and X's-and-O's analysis, is where we have the most fun and it's also where we eat. Rumor mongering? Not really our thing. However, there are many of you that come to this website daily looking for all of your San Diego Chargers news, and I feel it necessary to not leave you in the dark about what is going on, so.....
Yes, you've probably heard the rumors about Philip Rivers being traded to the Tennessee Titans. You've heard the team's GM give a non-answer when asked about it, and then backtrack the next day. Things should start dying down now, yes? No.
Who's at fault here?
The media is ready to be done with the story. They really are. Nobody likes to devote this much ink and airtime to a potential storyline that might never happen. It makes the whole thing look contrived. However, the Chargers are not letting them kill the story.
If the team was willing to say that they hadn't talked with the Titans the day after the press conference and attribute it to a "team source", why not have Telesco say it at the press conference?
Explain to me how a team that might be willing to trade their star QB is hurt in any way by saying that they have not talked about trading their star QB and will not be trading him. Seriously. If anything, that only helps to drive up his value and it helps get the press conference back on track, talking about the upcoming NFL Draft.
The team seemingly realized that the day after the press conference or someone was willing to lie when Telesco wasn't.. Either way, too little too late. The story was not only given legs, it had already run down the street. However, the team creating these rumors did not start there at all.
Even if you assume that the "Rivers for Marcus Mariota" trade rumors/ideas came from the ether of NFL blogs or even from the Tennessee Titans front office (to drive up the price of the #2 overall pick), the initial flood of rumors died down rather quickly....and then the Chargers, very publicly, sent their offensive brain trust to Eugene, Oregon to wine-and-dine Marcus Mariota before working him out the following day.
Why did they do this? Or, better yet, why did we know that they did this?
I have no real answer for you. I do, however, have some fourth-hand speculation!
I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that Telesco wasn't the biggest fan of Philip Rivers at this point in his career (which, as someone who is terrified of Rivers' health after watching his performance suffer at the hand of injuries in the last few seasons, I understand), and that he knows Ken Whisenhunt is salivating over the idea of bringing Rivers to the Titans and being credited for turning the franchise around.
I heard from that same friend of a friend of a friend that Mike McCoy and Frank Reich were on "Team Rivers", and not really on board with the idea of starting over at the QB position.
Supposedly, Telesco is a big fan of Mariota. He asked, as someone that is working within a front office that works as a team (thank goodness), that McCoy and Reich (and QB coach Nick Sirianni) work out Mariota and meet him to see if they come away equally impressed by the Oregon Duck.
All of that I believe, although I can't confirm any of it as being true. Just what I've heard in the wind.
It also, somewhat, explains the very public dinner. It sends out the message, to Whisenhunt or whomever, that Rivers might be available without actually placing a call. It also helps gauge the fans reaction of a possible move.
I guess what I'm saying is....the news of the dinner is where the rumors really picked up steam, and that's what the Chargers wanted. They leaked their plans to privately meet with Mariota and have him work out in front of their offensive brain trust because they wanted to see what the reaction would be. They are responsible for creating this mess, not the media.
Why aren't the rumors dying down?
A number of reasons, actually.
For one, there is still plenty of time on the clock for negotiations. As long as there is time left, the negotiations will continue.
Does that mean that the Chargers will make a trade right before the #2 overall pick? Not necessarily!
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jameis Winston (they will), the Titans would choose Marcus Mariota to be their own QB, even if they can't find a trade partner. Right? Well, probably. Probably, I say! (More about this later.)
Now, the question, even after the Titans select Mariota (if they do!) will be why they picked him. Honestly, I think that, if a deal were to go down between the Chargers and Titans that involved Rivers and Mariota, that it would happen somewhere between picks #2 and #17 in the 2015 NFL Draft. Hell, it might even happen at the end of that first day, if the Titans and Rivers and in contract negotiations and Tennessee can tell San Diego who they want to pick with the #17 pick.
That means that this trade won't be dead until Day 2 (or Day 3!) of the NFL Draft! Until that time, it's all negotiations.
The second reason is that, while the Chargers may be trying to publicly kill the story, they are privately saying things that are driving reporters wild. Check out these tweets from the last few days....
talking to more and more people who believe the Philip Rivers trade rumors have legitimate legs.— Alex Flanagan (@Alex_Flanagan) April 25, 2015
@Alex_Flanagan plus 1.— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) April 25, 2015
If the #Chargers interest in Mariota is a smokescreen it's one of the best I've ever seen. They like him, a lot.— Ryan Phillips (@RumorsandRants) April 24, 2015
It probably doesn't help that LaDainian Tomlinson, who still has close ties to the team and to Philip Rivers, is publicly saying that the team wants to trade Rivers (and that Rivers wants to go)....
So, outside of reporters that have recently spoken to the Chargers, and former players with ties to the team, who else thinks that this trade could still potentially happen? Las Vegas!
Marcus Mariota trade rumors page: http://t.co/05lLzcJnkj— Bolts From The Blue (@BFTB_Chargers) April 26, 2015
Sportsbook opened with Marcus Mariota's chance to land in SD being 15/1 and it's now 5/2. I'm juuuust saying. Pulled for a while last night.— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) April 23, 2015
These numbers got more and more out of control on Thursday before getting pulled off the board permanently on Friday. For whatever reason, there are people out there who are willing to literally bet quite a lot of money on the fact that Mariota will be on the San Diego Chargers in 2015 (which, if you ask me, can't happen without the team dealing Rivers to the Titans).
"Should I be optimistic?"
Wait, which are you rooting for? A Rivers trade or not a Rivers trade?
Actually, it doesn't matter! Here are your silver linings....
If you want Rivers traded for a boatload of picks (and Marcus Mariota), there is plenty of reasons to believe this will actually happen, including Los Angeles, Rivers' health (and age), and Ken Whisenhunt's love of Philip Rivers (and Zach Mettenberger, who would be a perfect apprentice for Rivers).
Actually, I've heard that Whiz might actually think more of Mettenberger's future than he does Mariota's, which makes zero sense until you remember the absolute madness Whiz made of the Arizona Cardinals' QB situation after Kurt Warner retired.
If you want Rivers to stay with the Chargers for the rest of his career, I'd say there's still a 50% chance of this happening. McCoy and Reich are still in love with him as their starter, and that matters to Telesco. Rivers isn't the most adventurous guy, and I don't think signing a big-money deal with the Chicago Bears (as an example) appeals to him at all.
If he doesn't get traded this offseason (which is probably 50/50 at best), I could easily see Rivers signing a franchise tag offer for next season and seeing how the Los Angeles stadium situation plays itself out (assuming that the team hasn't already moved to L.A. for the 2016 season). By the end of the 2016 season, we should know where the Chargers will be for the next few decades.
Assuming the Chargers plan on staying in San Diego, I see no reason why Rivers wouldn't sign a fair-market deal to spend the rest of his contract here. The variables are if the Chargers will stay and if Tom Telesco is interested in offering Rivers that fair-market deal.
The cause of all of these rumors, despite Telesco's feelings for Rivers and Mariota, is that Rivers is unwilling to hitch himself to a team with an unsure future. His turning down the team's offer to talk about a contract extension is where all of this began. We, as fans, know how he feels. We, as citizens of San Diego, understand how the team's front office feels as well, trying our best to secure an unsure future.
"Can I stop holding my breath now?"
No, not yet.