If I were a carpenter...

The NFL draft is approaching and the rumors are just starting to heat up. In what seems like an annual event, the Chargers name has once again been tied to the top overall pick in the draft. This year, the rumor is that the Chargers will trade quarterback Philip Rivers to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the top pick in the draft. Or is it Drew Brees? No, it was Philip Brees. Drew Rivers?

To think that the Chargers would consider moving one of their quarterbacks is not out of the question. As good as the Chargers were last year, one can't help but wonder how much better they might have been had last year's first round pick been used on a player that could have contributed on the field. Prior to last year's draft, A.J. Smith spoke not of players, but of player values. As it stands now, the Chargers are prepared to let a player with great value sit on the bench for a second consecutive season.

The Chargers, however, are not interested in trading with the 49ers. If they did so, it would be to facilitate the selection of wide receiver Braylon Edwards at the top of the draft. The wiser maneuver would be to get the Browns involved in the bidding. The Browns need a quarterback as well, and the Chargers should still be able to land Edwards with the third pick. If not, Mike Williams would be there as a not-too-shabby consolation prize.

If the Chargers are indeed putting one of their passers on the block, they are likely doing so now in an attempt to create a market for whichever player that may be. Just like last season, when the team revealed the identity of every team that had contacted them about the top pick in that draft, the Chargers know that competition brings out the best in everybody, including competing general managers.

While these trade scenarios are fun to talk about, they are in no way imminent, as they were last season. The Chargers are reluctant to move Brees, not only because of the stellar season he had last year, but because his teammates have rallied around him. They do not want to move Rivers either, as they believe he has a tremendous future, and they are not yet sold on Brees as a consistently stable performer.

So the team will likely stay the course and bring both quarterbacks into the upcoming season. If Brees can reproduce the level of success he attained last season, then the Rivers rumors may be legit in 2006. If not, then Brees will be franchised and traded, and Rivers will get his shot at leading the team.

Despite all of these considerations, expect these trade rumblings to grow even louder as the draft approaches. The Chargers will likely talk to the 49ers and Browns, and will try to get a feel as to what it would take to move into position to grab one of the draft's elite receivers. However, there is no point in investing so heavily in an elite receiver unless you have an elite quarterback who can fully take advantage of his abilities. Unfortunately for the Chargers, keeping both Brees and Rivers on board is the only way they can ensure they meet that all too crucial prerequisite.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo@sandiegosports.net

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