Chargers GM Tom Telesco Seeks QB with 'A Lot of Attributes Philip Rivers Had'
Jason B. Hirschhorn
INDIANAPOLIS -- Though the Los Angeles Chargers parted ways with longtime starting quarterback Philip Rivers this offseason, that doesn't necessarily mean the team wants to pivot to a replacement with a vastly different set of characteristics. The team's general manager Tom Telesco echoed that sentiment Tuesday when he spoke to beat reporters for the first time since announcing Rivers' departure earlier in the offseason.
"Generally speaking, a lot of attributes that Philip Rivers had," Telesco says of what he looks for in a quarterback. "You want that intangible part, too. It's very important for the quarterback to be able to lead, to have work ethic, preparation skills, handle adversity, all of those skills. That's so important for a quarterback."
For whatever traits Rivers lacked as a quarterback, his intangible qualities such as leadership and intelligence made him one of the NFL's premier quarterbacks for more than a decade. Rivers thrived in more than one offense and coaching staff, giving the Chargers stability that only a handful of other teams possessed over that period. While Telesco and Los Angeles' decision-makers determined that the time had come to move on from the veteran signal-caller, it makes sense that they would target a replacement capable of taking up the leadership void created by Rivers' departure.
And though one of the quarterbacks available in free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft could possess those leadership traits and the physical skills Rivers lacked -- mainly mobility and the ability to make plays on the run -- Telesco described a more traditional pocket passer when discussing that side of his scouting process.
"Obviously, you want the physical skills too," Telesco says. "Have a quick decision-maker on the field, arm strength, feet in the pocket, all that stuff. So, that's all part of scouting."
Given the options that the Chargers could entertain this offseason in their quest to replace Rivers, it makes sense for Telesco to leave the door open for more than one type of quarterback. While the franchise could make a play for a traditional dropback passer like the New England Patriots' Tom Brady in free agency, it could also pursue a trade for the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton or draft Oregon's Justin Herbert, both athletic signal-callers who can attack defenses inside and outside the pocket. And though head coach Anthony Lynn disputes the notion that he needs a mobile player behind center, he and his coaching staff have shown they can make good use out of a quarterback with wheels.
Still, Telesco says he could bring in someone with traits closely resembling those of Rivers. That fact further clouds the Chargers' intentions for the offseason.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH