Longtime San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers could end up replacing Peyton Manning as Denver's next quarterback.
Manning, who turns 39 Tuesday, may be entering the final season of his career. Manning has made it clear that he plans to play in 2015, but he has made no plans beyond that.
The Denver Broncos, meanwhile, are preparing for life after Manning. Brock Osweiler is an option, but Denver may not be sold on him. The team offered Ravens backup Tyrod Taylor a contract richer than the three-year deal he signed with the Bills. If Taylor wins the starting job in Buffalo, his contract will void to a two-year, $7 million deal.
Quarterback draft prospects that the Broncos are interested include UCLA's Brett Hundley, CSU's Garrett Grayson, and CSU-Pueblos's Chris Bonner. Denver owns ten selections in the draft.
That's four potential replacements for Manning, and none of them are particularly alluring.
That's where Philip Rivers enters the conversation.
Rivers does not plan to sign a contract extension with San Diego, according to UT-San Diego's Kevin Acee.
"I am signed up for one more year," Rivers said. "I guess things could change, but with all the uncertainty in many aspects, I don’t see it changing before camp gets here, and when camp gets here I’m even more certain to play it out."
Rivers is entering the final year of a six-year, $91.8 million deal he signed with the Chargers in 2010. Acee wrote that there have been no talks between San Diego and Rivers about his contract. He also wrote that the team may be preparing for life without Rivers, perhaps planning to acquire Oregon's Marcus Mariota in this year's draft.
Rivers's future in San Diego is in doubt.
If Manning retires next offseason, Denver may consider Rivers a viable replacement. Rivers is not young — he's 33— but his streak of 144 consecutive starts is good for No. 2 in the NFL today (Eli Manning has 167).
"I feel like I have a lot of good years left," Rivers said.
The Broncos have witnessed first-hand what Rivers is capable of doing to a defense. Before Manning arrived in the AFC West in 2012, Rivers owned a 9-4 record against Denver (he's 1-5 since then).
Rivers has gone 356-of-560 (63.57 percent) for 4,429 yards, 31 touchdowns and 17 interceptions against the Broncos. In his career, he has gone 3,025-of-4,678 (64.7 percent) for 36,655 yards, 252 touchdowns and 122 interceptions in nine seasons as a starter (eleven total).
Rivers was drafted fourth overall by the Giants in 2004 and later traded to the Chargers in exchange for Eli Manning and two draft picks. Rivers has been San Diego's starter since former Broncos safety John Lynch sack-stripped Drew Brees in the 2005 season finale. Brees dislocated his right shoulder on the play trying to recover his fumble.
Rivers finished the game and went on to become San Diego's starter after San Diego chose to let Brees walk that offseason. Brees ended up in New Orleans and won a Super Bowl with the Saints (against Manning's Colts) four years later.
For Rivers to end his career with the same team that helped start it would be poetic. Not the Giants, nor the Chargers. Rather, the Broncos, who injured Brees and forced San Diego to play Rivers.
That's at least a year away from even potentially happening, but it's worth talking about.
Manning won't play forever.