Today is the deadline, although it's somewhat unofficial, for the San Diego Chargers to sign Philip Rivers to a contract extension. According to everything we've been told by insiders and reporters, if the deal isn't done by today it won't be done before the offseason (when Rivers is slated to become a free agent).
Yesterday, news came out that the Chargers were willing to slap the franchise tag on their franchise QB, even going so far as to say that they would do it two years in a row (which is the limit) if they had to.
When this news came out, I believe I figured out the question that has been on the mind of every Chargers fan that has been watching this situation from afar: "What's keeping these two sides from agreeing to a contract?"
Contrary to what many think, I don't believe this is about money. Rivers was more than happy to take his last contract extension at a level slightly below Eli Manning, just a few days after Manning had signed his new deal. Pay him like a top 10 QB and he'll be fine. Philip Rivers isn't trying to break the bank, the man wants to win after all.
I also don't think this has much to do with Los Angeles, and those that are bringing it up in the discussions are just pushing along their own preferred narrative. It may be a factor, but not enough to keep Rivers from signing. He knows there are plenty of nice places in L.A. for him and his family to live. It's not like the man has never traveled north of Camp Pendleton.
When the Chargers said, through a report filed by CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, that they would be willing to pay $50 million for two years of Philip Rivers (that's what the franchise tag for two years would roughly come out to) ....this told me that the holdup is over years.
Look at what Tom Telesco said about Eric Weddle. He had taken a beating over the years. His play is going to start declining. They didn't want to sign him to a long-term deal as a result.
Philip Rivers has taken a beating over the years. My guess is that either his play is going to start declining, or that Telesco thinks that it's going to. They don't want to sign him to a long-term deal as a result.
Now, along with the report that the team would franchise Rivers for two years was an interesting caveat that I heard while listening to Judson Richards last night. "The Chargers would be willing to fully guarantee the third year of a deal with Rivers."
So, there it is. The Chargers want to sign Philip Rivers to a three-year deal. Which is fair, when you consider he'll be 34 by the end of this season. He'd be 37 by the end of that three-year deal.
However, Philip Rivers' agent is no fool. He sees 37 year old Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl a year after 37 year old Peyton Manning led his team to an AFC Championship. "37 years old is nothing for an NFL QB these days" is probably what he's saying to the Chargers. "Why would you want him spending the last few years of his career wearing another uniform? Don't you want him to be a Charger for life?"
I don't know anything, but my guess is that Rivers and his agent are asking for a 5 year deal that's guaranteed through at least four of those years. I can also see the Chargers not budging from their offered 3 year, fully guaranteed, deal. Maybe they're even offering him one of those Donald Butler-type of deals that allows them to back out after 3 years with no penalty if they want to, despite it saying "5 years overall" on the contract. Either way, the Chargers aren't willing to put money on a 38 year old Philip Rivers being worth $20 million per year.
Telesco's backup plan is a good one. Get going on a two year plan to replace Rivers, along with Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, and Eric Weddle. Completely reshape the core of the team in his own image, with guys that he himself has brought in. A chance to "rebuild" without the really bad years, knowing that he's got two years of in-his-prime Philip Rivers to work with before he has to try and replace him.
Now the question is....how badly does Philip Rivers want to play into his late 30s? Or does he want to take the $50 million over the next two years and then walk away into retirement at 36 years old?