The famed quarterback draft class of 2004 could soon be no more, with reports that Philip Rivers is close to losing his starting job in Los Angeles.
After Eli Manning was benched and Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season with an injury, Rivers was the last one of the three franchise quarterbacks drafted in 2004 to be left standing. But a new report from NFL.com says that Rivers could soon be headed to the bench as well, as his mistakes have played a major role in the team’s struggles this year.
Rivers has thrown seven interceptions in the past two games, the worst stretch of his career. The 4-7 Los Angeles Chargers face the Denver Broncos on Sunday in a game that could knock them out of the playoff hunt — and Rivers out of his starting spot.
“As Los Angeles prepares for a critical game against the Denver Broncos — who are starting rookie quarterback Drew Lock — sources say that if Rivers offers a repeat poor performance, he could get benched,” the report noted. “It is a move the Chargers hope to not think about and hope to not make.”
If that happens, the Chargers would be turning to veteran Tyrod Taylor, the former Buffalo Bills starter who has a reputation for being safe and throwing few interceptions. Taylor would likely not be a long-term solution for the Chargers, however.
Rivers doesn’t appear to be in immediate danger of being pulled from Sunday’s game, the report noted. Head coach Anthony Lynn said he hasn’t considered pulling Rivers and isn’t going to be looking over his shoulder if he should throw an interception.
“I don’t plan on having to make that decision,” Lynn said. “I plan on us going and playing our tails off this weekend and getting back in that win column…. Most great athletes, they respond well. I believe Philip is going to respond well.”
But the long-term future for Rivers looks less certain. As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported, there is a very real possibility that he doesn’t return to the Chargers in 2020. La Canfora noted that there is no movement on a contract extension for Rivers, and that the quarterback’s relationship with the team has become “frayed” in recent years.
“It is far from a foregone conclusion that he is back in 2020, and ownership may be inclined to go in a different direction, the sources said.”
In the immediate future, the Chargers appear focused on climbing back into playoff contention. At 4-7, the Chargers have almost no room for error and will likely need to win for a chance at snagging the No. 6 seed.