They’ve shared text messages and voicemails and, who knows, perhaps eventually even the same sideline.
There will come a point when the Chargers must try to secure Philip Rivers’ replacement, a move that — because of the quarterback’s durability — they have been able to avoid for years.
Ryan Finley offers a notable option this time around in that there’s a clear connection between the two players: North Carolina State.
“ ‘QB U,’ that’s what we refer to it as,” Finley said Friday at the NFL combine. “It’s a blessing for me to be a part of that and just fortunate to even be considered with his name.”
Finley grew up in Arizona and began his college career at Boise State before playing his final three seasons at N.C. State, where most of the school records he chased still belong to Rivers.
The Chargers’ quarterback has texted advice and congratulations to Finley in recent months, although they’ve never met in person.
“He’s been a big help to me,” Finley said. “I think he’s done it the right way. I think we can all agree his career has been pretty awesome.”
The Chargers have the 28th overall pick in April’s draft and then one selection in each of the next six rounds. They could use one of those choices on a quarterback, even though the high-end quality at the position is not considered as enticing as it was a year ago.
After the touted duo of Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, there appears to be a drop off to Drew Lock (Missouri) and Daniel Jones (Duke) … and then the rest.
“I think it’s a deep group,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. “It may not be top heavy this year, but I think it’s a deep group. I’ve seen some guys that we like.”
Since Rivers joined the Chargers in 2004, they have drafted three quarterbacks: Charlie Whitehurst (third round in 2006), Jonathan Crompton (fifth round in 2010) and Brad Sorensen (seventh round in 2013).
Whitehurst was the only one to play in an NFL game. He never threw a pass in four appearances for the Chargers.
To illustrate the stability Rivers has provided, consider the Cleveland Browns have taken a quarterback each of the past three years.
Even New England, with six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, has selected three quarterbacks since 2014.
Rivers sat in favor of Drew Brees during his first two seasons. He took over for the Chargers in 2006 and hasn’t missed a game since, making 208 consecutive regular-season starts.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said the Chargers could be a fit for either Lock or Jones. He also said Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham could be an option as a developmental project.
Then there is the very tantalizing speculation that the Chargers could be a potential spot for Josh Rosen, the former UCLA quarterback taken 10th overall last year.
With Arizona possibly eyeing Murray with the top pick in the draft, there are rumblings that the Cardinals could be looking to trade Rosen. Although he started 13 games last season as a rookie, Rosen would provide the Chargers with both a ready backup if Rivers is injured and an eventual full-time replacement.
Rivers, 37, is signed for one more season and definitely plans to continue playing when the Chargers move into the new stadium in Inglewood in 2020.
Beyond that, he has been vague, explaining that he would like to play a “handful” of years but doesn’t see himself lasting as long as Brady, who will turn 42 in August and has talked about playing into his mid-40s.
Of course, trading for Rosen probably would come at a steep price, especially given the NFL’s unending quarterback shortage.
All makes for an interesting discussion in early March, before free agency and the draft, when forecasting what will happen is even tougher than forecasting an NFL Sunday in the fall.
As it is, Telesco knows he and the Chargers have been fortunate to have Rivers, understanding just how challenging it can be to find a quarterback.
“The scouting process is just different because so much of it has to be from the neck up,” he said. “So you have to spend a lot of time with them … because the intangibles are a big part of playing the position.
“It’s not the easiest thing to scout. We can scout athletic ability, feet, quickness, release and arm strength and accuracy. We can see that. But it’s everything from the neck up that’s a little more difficult. So we have to a lot of work into it.”
For a while, the kicking situation for the Chargers was a joke. Now, even they can laugh about it.
Lynn was asked about the process of getting comfortable with a young kicker such as Michael Badgley.
“The process of getting comfortable with a kicker?” he repeated. “I mean, I didn’t have any choice. We only went through about eight.”
Starting in 2017, the Chargers used six kickers in games before Badgley took over for good midway through last season.
“I have a very good comfort level with Michael,” Lynn said. “Michael’s a very confident young man. He [didn’t] carry himself like a rookie. I’m looking forward to working with him for a lot of years.”