Philip Rivers has not missed a game in 4,226 days. His contract runs for only three more seasons.
The six-time Pro Bowler is one of the most league’s most durable players — one who could, by the end of this year, become only the fourth quarterback to start 200 consecutive contests. But 35 years old is 35 years old, and at some point, the Chargers will need to ask themselves: “What does life look like after Phil?”
Could the answer be … Cardale Jones?
On Wednesday, the Chargers acquired the 2016 fourth-round pick from the Bills, giving away a conditional draft selection. For a franchise that has not drafted a quarterback since 2013 (when it used a seventh-rounder on Brad Sorensen), this is as much of a succession plan as it’s had in a good while.
Three years ago, Jones unfurled one of the most stunning debuts in recent college football history. After Ohio State lost its top two quarterbacks to injuries, they gave Jones his first career start in the Big Ten championship against Wisconsin. He led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 blowout — and then proceeded to win two more games, becoming a national champion after throwing just 94 career passes.
He split starts with J.T. Barrett in 2015, but played enough to pass for 1,459 yards and eight touchdowns. The following spring, Buffalo selected him No. 139 overall, the ninth quarterback off the board.
Thirteen months later, Jones is heading for Los Angeles — or more specifically, Costa Mesa, where the Chargers begin training camp Sunday.
Excited for the new start, can’t wait to get to work @Chargers ⚡️
— Cardale Jones (@Cardale7_) July 26, 2017
The trade reunites him with first-year coach Anthony Lynn, who served as the Bills’ offensive coordinator for the bulk of Jones’ rookie year. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound didn’t step onto the field until the final 15 minutes of the season, but Lynn has described him as an ideal developmental prospect — one whose strong arm and footwork could allow him to flourish…