This is a good time to be Philip Rivers. The San Diego Chargers quarterback is about to cash in big.

With New York Giants QB Eli Manning landing a six-year, $97 million extension last week and Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger already locked up (Big Ben signed an eight-year, $102 million deal in 2008), Rivers is the only one of the three marquee quarterbacks from the 2004 draft class who is left to back up the Brink’s truck to his team’s complex.

Rivers is certainly deserving of a megabucks deal but how much he should be given is the question. Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings in his short career and Manning won one 18 months ago. Stare at Rivers’ ring finger closely and you won’t see a ring on it.

Well, you’ll find a wedding ring on it. But not a Super Bowl ring, the piece of jewelry that NFL quarterbacks are measured by.

In the aftermath of Manning’s deal, there are some pundits saying Rivers deserves more cash because his statistics are better. Come again?

Passing yardage might be impressive to the shallow football fan or the beat writer who doesn’t fully understand the game. But there are many more facets to a successful quarterback than building up fancy stats.

That’s nice that Rivers passed for 4,009 yards last season (Manning’s best yardage-season is 3,762) but the list of 4,000-yard NFL passers include Steve Beuerlein, Lynn Dickey, Elvis Grbac, Bill Kenney, John Kitna, Don Majkowski, Scott Mitchell, Jake Plummer, Jay Schroeder and Vinny Testaverde.

Let me know which one of those 10 guys you want to give a $100 million contract too. There are others too — Jeff Garcia, Jeff George, Brad Johnson and Neil Lomax.

I mean, come on, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw for more 4,000 yards last season, his first campaign in place of Brett Favre.

Those shallow dudes relying on stats probably never heard of Bart Starr, Roger Staubach or Bob Griese. I’m sure they have heard of legendary Joe Montana — who also never threw for 4,000 yards in a season.

I’m sure the point is clear — gaudy statistics aren’t the measure. If so, every football fan in the country would be clamoring for New Orleans Saints (and former Chargers) QB Drew Brees to be the highest-paid QB in NFL history after Brees passed passed for over 5,000 yards last season. In fact, think about this: Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning has topped 4,000 yards NINE times and has won a Super Bowl ring and he’s being paid less than little bro Eli.

Regardless, it’s clear that both Mannings, Roethlisberger and New England Patriots QB Tom Brady deserve to be paid more than Rivers. So the question is what should the Chargers be offering Rivers?

Is it $90 million over six years? Or $98 million over seven years? Or is it possible Rivers gets a contract over $100 million?

If Rivers eventually signs a deal worth more than both Eli Manning and Roethlisbeger, then it’s hard for the Chargers to continue whining about how they can no longer afford to play in Qualcomm Stadium. Pretty silly to keep up that argument when you give your quarterback the type of contract that would attract Bernie Madoff’s attention.

From Rivers’ end, he needs to assess whether the Chargers will remain in San Diego or not. I don’t see him being comfortable in the Los Angeles spotlight should the Chargers hoof it up the freeway to the City of Industry in two years.

In fact, Rivers could receive a similar contract from another team — how about the Carolina Panthers? He’s still big in that area after his stellar career at North Carolina State — and be comfortable as he searches for a Super Bowl ring.

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith wanted Rivers in the 2004 NFL draft (well, at least after Eli Manning made it clear he had no interest in playing for the Chargers) and the Chargers have seen Rivers develop into one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. But Rivers holds all the cards as the Chargers would have to find another QB to develop if Rivers should eventually slip away.

And with Rivers being a classy guy (he actually apologized to me for lying once and sounded like he really meant it), you figure the Chargers have a better chance at finally winning a Super Bowl with him at the helm than taking a stab at another hyped prospect.

You do recall that before Rivers, the Chargers drafted a guy named Ryan Leaf (see the 1998 NFL draft) and boasted how they had found their quarterback for the next 15 years.

They are just now wiping off the final residue of egg off their faces.

Yo, Philip, back up that Brink’s truck to the front entrance of the facility. The Chargers have no choice but to fill it up.

  1. […] I said previously ( the Chargers had little choice but to give Rivers a large contract, particularly since the Super […]

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