Philip Rivers says he doesn’t need extension before Chargers contract runs out
It’s reasonable to conclude that Philip Rivers and the Chargers will work out an extension this summer.
The team needs Rivers, who is coming off one of his most productive seasons and made his eighth Pro Bowl.
Rivers is entering his 16th year in the NFL and 14th as the Chargers starter and didn’t move from San Diego when the franchise relocated two years ago, all of which strongly suggests he’s going nowhere.
But a new contract this offseason isn’t a certainty or, the veteran quarterback explained Monday, necessarily even a requirement.
Rivers, 37 and in the final season of a four-year, $83.25-million extension, said he’s open to allowing his deal to expire and then revisiting negotiations in early 2019.
“I’m just fine right where we are, you know,” he said. “I got this year left and under no immediate stress or urgency to get anything done.
“If it means playing it out, that will be just fine. It really will. We got a good group here and a good thing going. At this point, just focus on one year at a time and take it from there.”
General manager Tom Telesco has indicated the team plans on re-signing Rivers but offered no timetable. Rivers signed his current extension in August 2015.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, who also is 37 and was part of the 2004 draft class with Rivers, signed a two-year, $68-million contract extension in April. That deal included a guarantee of $37.5 million.
“I’m certainly thankful for that, if that opportunity comes,” Rivers said of re-upping with the Chargers. “I really have no goal or see it playing a certain way. I really don’t. I’m very at peace with where it is right now.”
Rivers did reiterate he’d like to play at least through the 2020 season, when the Chargers and Rams will move into the new stadium in Inglewood.
But he also joked about knowing he can’t keep saying “a handful” of years every time he’s asked about how much longer he plans on playing.
“I really don’t have a number in mind,” he said. “This is as honest as I can be. It is the truth. I’m just focused on this year, and we’ll go from there. … If it’s another year and if it’s then another year — both the team and myself are seeing it the same way — then we’ll go again.”
Rivers missed the opening of the Chargers’ voluntary offseason program in April because of a family trip he takes annually around Easter.
He rejoined his teammates last week and was at the team’s Costa Mesa facility again Monday as the program continued.
He admitted that some of the more mundane minutiae of the offseason is no longer appealing but said his desire to continue preparing for each year remains strong.
“I enjoyed the little break over Easter,” Rivers said. “Not being here, though, I was like, ‘Gosh, I’m excited to get back there.’ Knowing that the guys were here and I wasn’t, it felt a little weird. But I’m as fired up as I am every year at this point.”
When the Chargers finally come together as one, there will be an unfamiliar face in the quarterback room. Rookie Easton Stick was the team’s fifth-round draft pick in April.
He’ll join Rivers and Cardale Jones, who was the No. 3 quarterback last season, and veteran Tyrod Taylor, who signed a two-year deal in March to be Rivers’ backup.
Rivers said he has talked only briefly with Stick, but welcomed the addition of the kid quarterback.
“Everything I hear … he’ll be great in the room and fit right in,” Rivers said. “It’ll be good to have a young guy in there that, from everything you hear and everything he says, is hungry and eager to learn and work. We’ll have a lot of fun.”
Stick was drafted out of North Dakota State, where he went 49-3 as the starter. He and the rest of the Chargers rookies will open a mini-camp in Costa Mesa on Friday.
Meanwhile, the team’s longest-tenured quarterback will continue working toward his 209th consecutive regular-season start, set for Sept. 8, when the Chargers host Indianapolis.
Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt refused to put a limit on the number of years Rivers could keep playing. He did suggest the team plans on monitoring how much Rivers does in practice, especially during training camp.
Head coach Anthony Lynn also has talked this offseason about cutting back on the workload of his veterans in 2019 with the idea of keeping them healthier and fresher.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen had a more definitive answer when asked how much longer Rivers could play.
“At this point, as long as he wants to,” Allen said. “We keep getting better at the offensive line, and they keep protecting him. All he has to do is throw it.”
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