Chargers Aim to Clip Hawks' Feathers Again

Michael Lombardo

Chargers, Rivers Agree to Four-Year Extension | Philip Rivers, Stevie Johnson

QB Philip Rivers. Photo by Shana Siler,

The Chargers have agreed to a four-year, $83.25 million extension with QB Philip Rivers, the team announced late on Saturday. The contract includes $65 million in guaranteed money, giving Rivers the most guaranteed money of any player under a current contract, according to ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

The extension ends a wild offseason filled with speculation regarding No. 17. Back in March, Rivers said he preferred to play out the final season of his contract rather than sign an extension, citing concerns about the team’s potential relocation to Los Angeles and its commitment to building a championship-caliber roster. Shortly thereafter, the rumor mill starting buzzing with speculation Rivers would be traded the Tennessee in a package featuring the No. 2 overall pick, which the Chargers would presumably use on Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.

All that conjecture seems like ages ago now, as this contract cements Rivers’ place as the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future.

Receiver Stevie Johnson was quick to retweet the team’s announcement along with the hashtag “BoltUp.”

This is the second massive contract the Chargers have doled out in the last few months. Back in June, the team agreed with DE Corey Liuget on a five-year extension that can be worth up to $60 million.

At the press conference announcing Liuget’s extension, GM Tom Telesco said: “This extension is another reflection of our commitment to investing in our core players and homegrown talent.” Rivers clearly fits into that category, as well.

With Rivers and Liuget locked up, the two marquee players left on expiring deals are Antonio Gates and Eric Weddle. The plan for Gates, 35, is to go year-to-year at this point in his career. That plan was in place even before he was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

There have been no substantive talks with Weddle or his agent, David Canter. Weddle has made it clear that if an extension is not in place by the start of the season, he will play out the final season of his contract and leave the team as a free agent in 2016. There is a chance the team could revisit Weddle’s contract situation once more now that Rivers and Liuget have been taken care of, but an agreement appears unlikely. The Chargers are reluctant to commit too much guaranteed money to Weddle given the high number of snaps he has played since becoming a starter in 2008.

But today is not about The Beard … it’s about The Bolo Tie.

Rivers has thrown for 36,655 yards with 252 touchdowns and 122 interceptions in his career. He is on the verge of several milestone accomplishments, including setting the franchise record for touchdown passes (he is just two behind Dan Fouts). Also, the first touchdown pass from Rivers to Gates this season will give Gates 100 for his career and extend the duo’s all-time record for most touchdown connections between any quarterback-tight end tandem.

The numbers are impressive, but the intangibles are why the Chargers feel comfortable investing so much money in their quarterback. Rivers is a devout Christian and respected family man. His leadership and competitiveness are off the charts.

Rivers is a polarizing player around the league only because of his love of curse-free trash talk. Bolts backers revere him and opposing fans hate him. He’s like Matt Barnes, only talented.

The only question now is how much of Rivers’ contract will be played out in San Diego and how much will roll over to Los Angeles. There remains a chance Rivers could retire if the team relocates to Los Angeles — Rivers, a true Southern boy, is rumored to loathe the L.A. atmosphere — but that remains a long shot.

The truth is we still have no idea whether Dean Spanos will be successful in his attempt to lead the franchise to Los Angeles … at least he has the right man leading the team on the gridiron.

What are your thoughts on Philip Rivers’ new deal? Talk about it inside our message boards!

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for and has also been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter @NFLinsider_Mike.