Philip Rivers Jersey

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.

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