Let's make one thing clear right away – Philip Rivers is firmly entrenched at quarterback for the foreseeable future.
The Los Angeles Chargers boast one of the top QBs in the NFL fresh off another Pro Bowl campaign in which he became the Chargers' all-time leader in passing yards. He is also under contract through 2019 after inking an extension two years ago.
Number 17 threw 33 TDs in 2016, which were the second most of his career and fourth most in the NFL. His 4,386 passing yards were the fifth highest of his career and ranked fifth in the league. Rivers' 16 completions last season over 40 yards were also a career high, and were the second most in the NFL, one shy of Matt Ryan's 17.
Clearly, Rivers shows no signs of slowing down.
He is also on the precipice of setting more history.
Rivers heads into 2017 ranked 12th all-time with 45,833 career passing yards, needing just 401 yards to pass Vinny Testaverde (46,233 yards). His 3,811 completions rank 10th in league history, and he needs only 189 more to become just the eighth player to enter the exclusive 4,000 club.
Still, as he enters his 15th season at 35-years old, fans and pundits alike are wondering when it is time to draft a young QB to groom behind the future Hall of Famer.
"There never is a time when we aren't looking to add to any position, and that includes quarterback," General Manager Tom Telesco said. "Since I've been here, we've always done a lot of work in the draft on quarterbacks. It is such an important position to have. So really it is every year we are looking.
"We are very happy with Philip," Telesco continued. "We know Philip has a number of very good years left in him, but there has to be some sort of plan for after that. We started that years ago as far as doing a lot of work on quarterbacks in the draft. If there is one that we feel could potentially down the road be somebody (who) can help us at that position, we will certainly look at him. But again, that is something we've been doing as long as I've been here."
ESPN analyst Matt Bowen whole-heartedly endorsed Telesco's line of thinking, believing all 32 teams should operate in that manner. He also listed some potential QBs that could fit into the Bolts' system and learn behind Rivers.
"In college football, everyone tries to recruit a quarterback every year. I think in pro football, every team would love to draft a quarterback every year. In terms of development, the tough part is when is the time that you pick the next guy? For the Chargers, is it the situation this year where they pick a guy like a Brad Kaaya out of Miami, Pat Mahomes out of Texas Tech or a Nathan Peterman out of Pitt and say, 'Look, they are not ready to play football right now but it doesn't matter. We have Philip Rivers for at least three more years.' But in two to three years, is he ready to challenge (Rivers)? Because that is eventually what you want. Competition is good for everyone. So eventually, you want to get to a point where there is competition and the franchise feels confident enough to say now it is time because we have a young player (who) we have developed in our system with our terminology, our coaching and our discipline. We have the pieces around him; now it is time for him to play football."
Meanwhile, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM and current ESPN analyst Mark Dominik weighed in with his perspective on the situation.
"I don't think there is anything wrong with ever adding a young quarterback. I like the Patriots' philosophy of taking high picks (at QB) and hoping they never play. It's OK to have a second or third round quarterback be your backup, and there are two reasons why. Number one, you are being smart in your program just in case something happens. It doesn't have to just be age. There could be a devastating injury. But also, if you have a younger quarterback as a second or third round draft pick, he could offer you incredible value. You look at the market right now for a backup quarterback, it could be six or eight million for a backup. If you draft a young player there, then it is only one or two million dollars. So it is great value like that and you are also safeguarding for the future. It is not always the greatest pick for fans or those who are like, 'Oh, we need a left tackle, a receiver or a corner.' But, what do you need more than a quarterback? It makes sense. This league is all about competition and value."
Join the general manager and head coach as they make the rounds with the media in Indianapolis.