The Tennessee Titans had another down season in 2014. The proposed hope that a new coach brought to the team ended in a whimper and some saying that this team was “the same old Titans”. The team finished with a highly disappointing record of 2-14 and effectively secured the 2nd overall pick in the draft. And adding to the pain of last season, the Titans saw their oft-injured quarterback Jake Locker again suffer injuries that kept him out of the lineup. The former 8th overall pick in the 2011 draft could never stay healthy and that along with inconsistent play when he did make it on the field led ultimately to the Titans not picking up his option this offseason. Locker has since announced his retirement from the NFL. Tennessee used a few other options at quarterback, rookie Zack Mettenberger and veteran Charlie Whitehurst, but the Titans seem to not be so sure on what either will become. So with the 2nd pick in the draft, there is some intrigue as to what the Titans will do. Over the offseason, there have been a few things kicked around about how the Titans will use the 2nd overall pick. Names like University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and University of Southern California defensive lineman Leonard Williams have been tossed around as the answer for what the Titans may do. But over the last few weeks, there has been another scenario that has seemingly come out of nowhere.
Rumors have been circulating that San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers could be on the move to Tennessee. In the rumored situation, the Titans would trade their 2nd overall pick this season to the San Diego Chargers for the rights to Rivers. Many may wonder why the Chargers would be willing to make such a deal. But there are a couple factors that come into play. Rivers is searching for a new contract and it seems as if the organization is not really focused on making that happen. Although it is not clear how far they are apart on the contract, it is clear that both sides are not coming to any type of agreement as it stands at this point. And if the Chargers are not able to get him to sign a new deal that both can agree with, then Rivers could be playing out the string to his career in San Diego. But let’s just say the Chargers and Rivers miraculously come to an agreement, then the Chargers are still not out of the woods just yet. The stadium issue has taken on a life of its own this offseason. The Chargers and the city of San Diego have been playing this stadium game for almost two decades now. And at this point, it looks like a new stadium may not happen in San Diego at all. If that does not happen, there is another option that has come about. The city of Carson, California, which is not far from Los Angeles, is reportedly trying to use the idea of building a brand new stadium to lure a NFL franchise there. And with the issues that the Chargers organization has had getting a new stadium, that would be a perfect fit for them without having to do a huge relocation. It seems like a good solution for the team except for one thing. Phillip Rivers does not want to move to the Los Angeles area from San Diego with his family. And if the move to the Los Angeles area happens, then the Chargers may as well trade him because he does not want to be there. The Titans would offer Rivers a place he would like to play and they would also offer him potentially a big contract to be their quarterback to lead them forward. But what does a trade like this mean for both teams on the field.
In the case of the Chargers, they would definitely be starting to rebuild offensively with the trading of Rivers. And if they are to complete a trade with the Titans for the rights to the 2nd overall pick, they would likely have a rookie starting quarterback in Marcus Mariota next season. With the addition of Mariota, another dimension of offense will be added to the San Diego team. Mariota’s best weapon right now and going into his rookie season will be his legs. Some have compared the way he can run to the way current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick can get out the game. And you see what kind of pressure Kaepernick can put on a defense with his legs. As for Mariota, It will take some time for him to learn the reads and get comfortable with the offense, but his legs will always be something that he trusts. Unfortunately, the passing game will take a hit as a result. Tight end Antonio Gates has been used to Rivers knowing where he is and fitting in passes in tight spaces to get him the football. Mariota coming in will not have that type of relationship with Gates that Rivers did, so it may take some time for Mariota to learn how and when to get it to him. The same goes for wide receiver Keenan Allen. The running game may be the bigger focus to begin the Mariota era should he get picked by the Chargers assuming they trade Rivers to the Chargers. With this trade, it would also put a ton of pressure on the San Diego defense. They would need to be even better than they were last season to carry the team in more stretches. If they can do so, then the Chargers would be able to get away with a few things while Mariota learns and matures in the NFL.
For Phillip Rivers, he would get a chance to bring his family near home. Rivers is from Alabama and a move to Tennessee would be most welcomed for him. When he is not playing football, he is either studying or with his kids, as family is very important to him. But even on the field, the move would be something that Rivers would welcome. Rivers would be reunited with his former offensive coordinator in San Diego, Ken Whisenhunt. The two had good chemistry together and it would be pretty conceivable that they would pick up where they left off in San Diego. The addition of Rivers would also bring some stability to the quarterback position for Tennessee. The last few years the team has had some inconsistent quarterback play from the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Zach Mettenberger, Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst. The veteran Rivers would provide veteran leadership, great play and overall better skill at the position than the Titans currently have and have had in a long time. And with weapons like shifty wide receiver Kendall Wright and tight end Delanie Walker, the cupboard will not be barren for Rivers on the offensive side of the football. The only issue that Rivers may see is the offensive line. Tennessee quarterbacks did not have a ton of time last year behind a line that was consistently giving up pressure. If the Titans can get that solved this offseason along with this potential trade happening, then the Titans could be looking better going into next season.
Both San Diego and the Titans have their reasons for potentially taking this deal. But ultimately, it would be one that would help the Titans more immediately than the Chargers. And if the Titans are able to get Rivers to sign a new deal, provided this proposed trade happens, then they could be as solid as they have been at quarterback since Steve McNair was here. The move would also get them one step closer to turning it around and putting a winner on the field also. For the Chargers, the results may not be seen at the beginning of the proposed trade, but the trade would be judged more by what Mariota becomes rather than his immediate impact on the team. Again, the trade has not happened and it still could possibly not happen. But if it does, the Titans and Chargers will get something they want.