Sunday, March 18, 2018
Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler are the subject of multiple trade rumors, all of them ridiculous.

Why Trading Cutler Or Rivers Doesn’t Make Sense

Google Jay Cutler or Philip Rivers’ name and you’ll have no trouble finding rumors, columns and conjecture about how each man is possible trade bait to the Tennessee Titans for the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. That pick, up until maybe yesterday, is seen as the “Marcus Mariota” pick and it may still be, but nonetheless, the prospect of the Chicago Bears or the San Diego Chargers making the blockbuster move to trade their starting quarterbacks of the present for a possible quarterback of the future.

The very idea of either move is ridiculous.

And it has nothing to do with Marcus Mariota.

The Philip Rivers Problem

Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback. Sure, there are weaknesses in his game, just like every other quarterback in the history of the NFL, but his numbers and his ability to drag his team down the field, even when Chargers’ management seems content to ship out every talented skill position player on the roster, is rare in the NFL.

Since Rivers took over as the starter in 2006, he’s never posted a completion percentage lower than 60.2. He’s never thrown for less than 3,152 yards, never thrown fewer than 21 touchdowns and never thrown more than 20 interceptions. Last year Rivers was nothing short of outstanding, completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns with just 18 picks for a quarterback rating of 93.8. And as good as it was, it was pedestrian compared to other seasons the 12-year veteran has put up. He’s ended the year with a better than 100.0 QB rating four times and hit 105.5 twice. Hall of Famer Joe Montana only had two seasons better than that in his entire 16-year career. Steve Young, who has the NFL record in career quarterback rating only beat Rivers’ 105.5 twice. That’s rarified air right there and Rivers has the talent and capability to do it every season.

Rivers is a known quantity and a winner that has received very little help from his organization. Rivers has, easily, about five more good years left. That’s why if the Chargers are stupid enough to offer Rivers and their first round pick for the Titans’ No. 2, they’ll jump all over it. That’s also exactly why it will never happen.

I think Mariota is going to be a great quarterback, but if he maxes out his entire potential you know what you’d be lucky to get? Philip Rivers.

There was a stretch last season where it looked like the Chargers were the best team in football and heading for the Super Bowl. The won five straight games after barely losing the season opener to the playoff-bound Arizona Cardinals by all of one point. One of those wins was a dominating performance over the eventual NFC champion and defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Their winning streak ended with a three-point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers went 4-5 the rest of the way and barely missed the playoffs, losing a play-in game to the Chiefs that let the Baltimore Ravens, who the Chargers had beaten 34-33 on Nov. 30, sneak in and nearly steal the whole thing.

This is not a team that needs to be blown up and Rivers is not a quarterback that should be shipped out. The Chargers should be scouring free agency and working every angle in the draft to maximize their next five years with Rivers because quarterbacks like him come to teams maybe once every 20 years. If they’re lucky.

The Jay Cutler Problem

First, if you’re the Titans, why would you do it? You’re looking at Cutler and the Bears’ No. 7 pick in exchange for your No.2. On paper alone, that actually looks pretty good. The Titans still get a top player in this draft, likely their pick of the top wideouts and premier pass rushers, get Cutler and could still add a rookie quarterback like Bryce Petty in the second round.

Here’s the problem and where the Bears were completely insane, no matter what they could have possibly thought the had in Cutler when they signed him to his new contact. He’s going to make $15.5 million in 2015 guaranteed. In 2016, that guarantee goes up to $16 million. That’s money Cutler will get if he’s on the field, on the bench or on the beach after he gets cut. To trade for Cutler is to trade for that and no team is that desperate for a quarterback.

As much as people want to be down on Cutler’s 2014 performance, make no mistake, it was his best statistical season. His completion percentage of 66.0 was a career high. He was +10 on his touchdown-to-interception ratio, also a career-best. He was benched for a game still had the second-highest passing total of his life with 3,812 yards, threw more touchdowns than he ever had (28) and posted his second-highest passer rating (88.6).

What does that mean? It means the Bears, as stated early, were looney to offer him the contract they did. But they did it. It’s their mess. And he’s their quarterback.

The Bears can win with Jay Cutler and they have the offensive staff and skill players to do it (though I would have already signed Greg Jennings the minute he cleared waivers). Cutler needs to command a run-first, play-action passing attack like he did in Denver and the Bears will be fine. He needs to be told, repeatedly, that he doesn’t have to do it all and the Bears need to fix their defense so that actually is true. Ultimately though, the Bears have to keep Cutler because they’ve given themselves $15.5 million reasons this season to not cut him.

What Does That Mean For Mariota?

The same thing if none of these rumors were circulating. He’ll either be taken No. 1 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which I still don’t believe, or No. 2 by the Titans giving Ken Whisenhunt the job security he hasn’t enjoyed since Kurt Warner retired after the 2009 season.

About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a sportswriter, photographer and humorist. You can email him (and you should) at

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