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Chargers, Mariota talk isn’t going away


For months, the Eagles have had the strongest connection to quarterback Marcus Mariota, given that their head coach: (1) recruited him to Oregon; and (2) repeatedly has praised him as a sure thing at the next level. More recently, another team that made it to the playoffs in the first year of the current coach’s tenure but missed the postseason in year two has been linked to Mariota -- but the connection hasn’t drawn nearly as much attention or buzz.

Last week, reported that Mariota will work out privately for the Buccaneers, the Jets, and the Chargers. (Mariota also has worked out privately for the Titans.)

Interest from the Buccaneers, Jets, and Titans all makes sense. Interest from the Chargers, who hold the 17th overall pick in the draft, doesn’t.

Or at least it didn’t make sense at the time the news of the workout emerged. Now that quarterback Philip Rivers has told Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego that the fourth pick in the 2004 draft won’t sign a new contract before his current one expires after the 2015 season and may not sign a new contract at all (especially if the team moves to L.A.), the Chargers have to consider their options. With G.M. Tom Telesco declining (per Acee) to rule out a trade, the most obvious outcome would be Rivers to Tennessee for the second overall pick in the draft, and Mariota.

When the Rivers news emerged late Tuesday, it didn’t generate much buzz. Perhaps that’s because franchise quarterbacks rarely change teams, except when they’re seriously injured (Drew Brees and Peyton Manning) or when they’ve been nudged into retirement and later decide to come back (Brett Favre). For others, talk of a franchise quarterback leaving is always just talk, a prelude to a new contract being signed.

Still, the evidence in this case makes it impossible to rule out a trade. The Titans, burned by reaching four years ago for Jake Locker, may be skittish about taking Mariota. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, burned by trading for Kevin Kolb four years ago with the Cardinals, may be more interested in getting a veteran that Whisenhunt has worked with. In 2013, Whisenhunt worked with Rivers as San Diego’s offensive coordinator.

It’s unclear how much more the Chargers would have to send to Tennessee to get Mariota, since franchise quarterbacks are rarely traded. Would Rivers for the second overall pick be enough? Would it be Rivers plus the 17th overall pick?

The teams have plenty of time to work that out, if there’s mutual interest. And they’ll have the opportunity to do it in a few days, when every NFL team convenes in Arizona for the annual league meetings.

Until then, share your thoughts. Should the Chargers trade Rivers for Mariota?

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