Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers says he doesn’t intend to sign a new contract until after his current contract expires. The Chargers have kicked the tires on incoming rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, sparking plenty of speculation that the Chargers could use Rivers as bait to trade up for a shot at Mariota.
Ludicrous on the surface, at a deeper level it all makes sense. The Titans need a franchise quarterback. (More specifically, they need a player people outside of Nashville actually have heard of.) Rivers supposedly has concerns about moving his young family to L.A. The Chargers, if they don’t have Rivers, need a young franchise quarterback who can help the Chargers win a market they’ll likely be sharing with the Rams or Raiders.
At an even deeper level, there’s a good chance it’ll all leverage. Rivers realizes that, just as the value of the franchise will increase if/when the Chargers move to Los Angeles, his value to the franchise will increase, too. For the same reason they’d possibly need Mariota, the Chargers definitely need Rivers. And that means the Chargers should be willing to pay Rivers a premium to re-up with the team.
From the team’s perspective, the best (only) way to squeeze Rivers into taking less is to create the not-so-subtle impression that they’ll move on from him sooner than the natural progression of his career would dictate.
So what do the Titans gain from this? The No. 2 overall pick acquires greater perceived value, with a higher demand (and in turn more significant compensation) emerging for a potential trade.
A trade of the pick to the Chargers for Rivers remains highly unlikely. The Chargers realize the risk of trading a proven commodity for a chance that a player will become a proven commodity. And if anyone knows how the second overall pick in the draft can become a bust, it’s the Chargers.