The question of who won the Philip Rivers for Eli Manning trade looks as if it were a slam dunk. The New York Giants are a Super Bowl winning team while the San Diego Chargers are not. It isn’t that cut and dry, however.
The Giants were never going to have Rivers on their team. If the Manning trade wasn’t going to happen, then they were going after 11th overall pick Ben Roethlisberger. Both these quarterbacks won two championships in the last 10 years.
Now that we took that out of the way, let’s get down to numbers. The Giants got Manning in the deal while the Chargers got Rivers, the team’s third round pick in 2004, first round pick in 2005 and fifth round pick in 2005.
That year’s third round pick turned out to be kicker Nate Kaeding. His career is looked at in very different lights. He will go down as a top five kicker in history when it comes to accuracy, but that was in the regular season. In the playoffs, he was awful. He went 8-for-15, including 0-for-3 in his final playoff game. Ask Chargers fans how they feel about Kaeding and depending on who it is, you may not like the answer.
Shawne Merriman was taken in the first round the next season. Everyone knows the story of “Lights Out.” He was the most feared pass rusher in the game for three seasons. He accumulated 39.5 sacks in those three seasons to start off his career. In 2008, the downfall started. He tore two ligaments in his knee that caused him to miss all but one game. The next season he came back and played 14 games, but he wasn’t the explosive playmaker he was in seasons prior. He never returned to his former self.
The last pick was dealt in a deal to bring offensive tackle Roman Oben from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He only played one full season for the Chargers.
The quarterback versus quarterback matchup is interesting. On one hand, you can look at the fact that Manning has two Super Bowls and call it an open and shut case. You could also point to the fact that he has led the league in interceptions on four different occasions. Rivers’ stats are harder to compare because he sat behind Drew Brees for two seasons before becoming the guy. Both men have not missed a game since becoming the full-time starter. Rivers has .79 interceptions per game, while Manning has 1.12. Despite having 21 less games, Rivers only has eight less touchdowns over his career.
They were both in five postseasons. Manning has three one-and-dones to Rivers has two. Manning has a line of 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his career in the playoffs. Rivers has 11 and nine. You could point to Manning’s defenses as the reason he won, and you could point at Ladainian Tomlinson as the reason Rivers won.
I honestly think that Rivers and Manning are on the same level of QB. They both have up and down seasons. They could be ranked top five some years or around 20 in others. The play in the postseason puts Manning ahead of Rivers by enough to erase the small factors of Kaeding, Merriman and Oher. The Giants were the winners, just barely, of the 2004 trade. Remember, though, there is still time.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds to the site’s NFL, MLB and NBA content. You can follow him on Twitter here.