Seeing Red

No position on the San Diego Chargers' roster is deeper or more secure than quarterback. But even the depth chart's sacred cow comes with some beefy questions.

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Question One: Will Philip Rivers' contract situation become a distraction?

With Eli Manning agreeing to a six-year, $97 million extension earlier in the week, Rivers is the last of the "Big Three" quarterbacks from the Class of 2004 to land his second contract. The Chargers and Rivers' agent, Jimmy Sexton, have yet to get into substantive discussions, but that is expected to change shortly.

Rivers' future is not the issue. If the Chargers don't extend his deal by season's end, the team will promptly slap him with the franchise tag. However, the longer this plays out, the better the odds that stalled negotiations will become a distracting story line.

Question Two: Is Billy Volek still game-ready?

The Chargers are fortunate to have a proven backup like Volek, but his meaningful reps have been few and far between over the last four seasons. Outside of a gutsy relief performance against the Indianapolis Colts during the 2008 Divisional Playoffs, he has not played significant minutes since 2005.

The organization still believes Volek can win with the right pieces around him, but if Rivers goes down for any significant stretch, plenty of people will hold their breath.

Question Three: Will the Charlie Whitehurst era end before it begins?

It's rare that a team spends a first-day draft pick on a player in hopes that he never sees meaningful minutes. But when that player is a backup behind the face of the franchise, that's exactly the case.

Whitehurst enters the final year of his rookie contract this season. And although it's possible he returns in 2010 -- he could try to wait out Volek, whose contract expires after the 2010 season -- he more than likely will leave as a free agent in search of a clearer path toward playing time. Whitehurst has yet to throw a pass in a regular season game, although he did score on a 14-yard touchdown run back in 2006.

Here's an exclusive look at all three QBs in action, with photos by SDBoltReport.com photographer Shana Siler.


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