Should the Titans trade for Philip Rivers?

Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) warms up before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) warms up before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

Pros and cons of a potential Tennessee Titans trade for QB Philip Rivers

It would have seemed laughable to suggest it in October, but the rumors grow more persistent every day: Philip Rivers might be traded. The San Diego Chargers quarterback is said to be unwilling to relocate to Los Angeles if the franchise does so as rumored, and is unhappy with the uncertainty surrounding the team’s future location.

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The 33-year-old star has one-year left on his contract, so if he was ever going to be traded, the time is now. The team that is the best fit would be the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have the need (their current QB is the thoroughly unremarkable Zach Mettenberger) and the assets to make a trade (namely, the second pick in the draft).

So, assuming these rumors are more than mere smoke, should the Titans make the deal? Let’s look at the pros and cons. (we won’t ask whether the Chargers should make the trade; that’s a conversation for another article altogether).


1. The Titans would immediately become relevant again

When was the last time the Titans were relevant, interesting, or exciting? 2008, maybe? That was the year they went 13-3, the best record in football. They did so with Kerry Collins at quarterback, which is crazy, but also shows you how long ago it was. Since then it’s been a slow descent into mediocrity, culminating in last year’s 2-14 debacle in which they looked bad at passing, rushing, defense, you name it.

But a trade for Philip Rivers, one of the best quarterbacks in football? That would re-energize the franchise for the first time since Vince Young made the cover of Madden. Rivers’ skill covered up a horrendous pass defense in San Diego last year; he could do the same for Tennessee’s many flaws. A great quarterback is the one player who can singlehandedly change a franchise. Not to mention that they play in a very weak division; with a flawed Colts team and the offensively challenged Texans as their main competition, they could go from worst to first immediately.

2. Quarterbacks of this caliber rarely become available

When was the last time a true star quarterback was available in a trade? And I don’t mean someone like Jay Cutler or an aging Steve McNair–I mean a real star, a top five quarterback. It doesn’t happen often. Now that there’s a chance, and the Titans are the team with the resources and the need to make it happen, they would be foolish to pass up the opportunity. They’ve watched Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst and Zach Mettenberger the past few years; it’s time they knew what it’s like to have a real quarterback.

3. The trade would reunite Rivers with Ken Whisenhunt

Rivers was on a bit on a downslide before Ken Whisenhunt arrived in San Diego in 2013. By the end of the year, the Chargers quarterback was back to being one of the best in football, and it’s very likely that Whisenhunt was the main reason why. Whisenhunt soon landed in Tennessee as the head coach, and now has a chance to reunite with Rivers, and relive the glory days, the best year either of them has had in a long while.


1. Rivers only has one year left on his deal

Trading for a player on a one-year deal is always a risk, even if you’re sure you can convince him to stay. Just ask the Lakers how that Dwight Howard trade turned out.

Pulling off a trade for Rivers is one thing; getting him to stay for another four or five years is another, and the Titans would need to be sure of an extension before they should even think about trading the second pick in the draft.

2. Would you rather have Rivers for five years or Marcus Mariota for 12?

This is the other big question, and it really depends on the Titans’ own evaluations of Mariota. If they think Mariota is a future star or a long-term starter, they would be foolish to pass him up for a 33-year-old, even one as good as Rivers. Why get 2015 Rivers when you can potentially get 2004 Rivers?

On the other hand, if they’re not so sure about Mariota, Rivers is a much safer option. They don’t want to pass up the next Cam Newton, but they also don’t want to draft the next Jake Locker.

3. They need to upgrade all positions, not just QB

If the Titans really are shopping their first-rounder, they might do better to seek out an RG3-type trade rather than givce it away for one player. This is a team with a lot of holes across the board (as you might expect from a 2-14 club), so they might be better served with multiple first rounders than one good player, even a quarterback.

The Verdict:

I think the Titans should make the trade, but (here’s the important part) if, and only if, Rivers will agree to sign an extension before the trade. They can’t trade the second pick in the draft for one year of Rivers. But for five? That’s a deal they should do. With this trade, they can follow the path of baseball’s San Diego Padres, and immediately go from the league’s most boring team to one of its most intriguing.

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