Ok…Ok…Ok. I know this is a bold statement. But I think that the power of the AFC, let alone the NFL might be shifted in the next few weeks to the AFC West. Here’s why:
On February 10th, the Los Angeles Chargers announced that after being together for 16 years, quarterback Philip Rivers and the franchise were both going separate ways. The idea that Rivers was not going to be the Chargers’ quarterback was all but official after he ended last season with 23 touchdowns with 20 interceptions.
That means that the L.A. Chargers are going to need a quarterback. They are about middle-of-the-road in cap space this season, ranked 16th in the league according to NFL Trade Rumors. Most of their $48.7 million in cap room will most-likely be used to bring back free agents like Travis Benjamin, Melvin Gordon, and Hunter Henry. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they won’t be able to keep all of the players that they had last season — especially if they are looking for a play-making, game-winning quarterback. Here’s where it get’s crazy.
While Melvin Gordon was in his holdout against LA, we saw the birth of a new NFL stud at the running back position. Austin Ekeler made a name for himself last season, and teams are going to be coming at him hard in free agency. The thing is though, he is a restricted free agent. The Chargers currently have leverage and they can use it to their advantage.
According to Spotrac, Chargers RB Melvin Gordon’s market value is $11.7 million. They are also claim that RB Austin Ekeler has a market value that could get him a $11.9 million average salary, which I think is a bit off. Because Ekeler is younger and might need some more experience and exposure, I’ll bet that Los Angeles can sign him to a short-term deal worth less because other teams might not be taking a gamble with an offer as high as his projected market value. If this is the case, it might free up a couple more million dollars to get a sufficient quarterback.
Now back to a quarterback. Perhaps the perfect option for the Chargers is closer than most think.
The picture seems a bit absurd because Derek Carr chose a picture in Los Angeles, instead of the Raiders’ old home of Oakland. But, in all reality, he could just be referring to the Raiders fans in the photo — expressing his love to the fan base. Or is he?
The part that troubled me most was that there was no caption in the post. Usually, unless you’re Tom Brady in a Hulu commercial, when athletes post photos with no caption, it indicates something traumatic or big has happened. In a way, they are speechless. And with a recent turn of events and things said by the Raiders’ front office, it is all but an actuality.
Just over three weeks ago, NFL insider Adam Schefter recently reported the following: “One of the teams expected to be leading the way if Brady gets to free agency is the Raiders, whose coach, Jon Gruden, is a long-time admirer of the three-time MVP and six-time Super Bowl champion. The two have a good relationship, and league sources believe that Gruden, who is known to be a highly effective recruiter, wants Brady on the Raiders.”
Gosh, if you’re Derek Carr, that probably doesn’t feel too good. Then to add to the job insecurity and franchise disloyalty, there was the news reported by pro football writer, Larry Fitzgerald Sr. — that’s right, the father of future hall-of-fame NFL receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. — that the Raiders are willing to offer Tom Brady a two-year, $60 million deal to come play for them in Las Vegas. I’m pretty sure that Derek Carr is not going to want to stay with the Raiders now regardless of whether or not they land Brady. In my opinion, Las Vegas is making a huge mistake ditching Carr. He is a great quarterback and is the kind of guy that can rally a team to a victory in clutch-situations. That’s just the player that he is. He has been limited ever since he broke his leg in the 2016-2017 NFL season, but he is on the rebound. I mean, heck. He had a 100.8 quarterback rating last season. That put him in the exclusive QB club that had a rating over 100, with names that included: Ryan Tannehill, Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees, Lamar Jackson, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson.
If the Chargers were truly desperate for Derek Carr, they could get him through a large trade. But, if Tom Brady goes to Las Vegas, the Raiders are going to want to trade Carr — even if it means a next-to-nothing deal only for the sake of gaining salary cap space.
What a crazy division. The Chargers with Carr on the rebound. The Raiders with Tom Brady, the only NFL player with six Super Bowl rings. The Chiefs with reigning-Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes. And the Broncos with a bright NFL sophomore quarterback, Drew Lock — who by the way, has an arm!
Trust me, I know it’s crazy. But. It. Might. Just. Happen.