Philip Rivers has established himself as the number one quarterback for the San Diego Chargers after they traded their no.1 draft selection QB Eli Manning to the New York Giants for the Alabama native in 2004. Rivers spent his first two seasons as the Chargers backup QB behind Drew Brees until he became their full-time QB in 2006. Rivers made his first career start against the Oakland Raiders and would throw for 3,388 yards, 22 touchdown passes with nine interceptions in 16 games played.
Rivers has remained San Diego's starting QB since, throwing for 4,000-plus yards in a single season seven times as a Charger. Although Rivers led the Bolts to the playoffs five times, they did not reach the Super Bowl despite an appearance in the '07 AFC Championship Game vs. the undefeated New England Patriots. San Diego fell one win shy of a trip to Super Bowl XLII thanks to a 21-12 loss. Rivers may have been fortunate to play with great players in San Diego such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman, and Antonio Gates but has played with the worst wideouts in his Chargers career. Here is a list of the top 15 worst wide receivers Philip Rivers ever had.
15 Keenan McCardell
Keenan McCardell played his first NFL game for the Cleveland Browns in 1992, then played six years in Jacksonville and two in Tampa Bay. McCardell was a member of the 2002 Buccaneers that won their first Super Bowl in franchise history against the Oakland Raiders. But in October 2004, the Bucs would trade McCardell to the San Diego Chargers for a couple of draft picks in 2005 after he asked for a trade out of Tampa. Although McCardell caught 31 passes for 393 yards with one touchdown in 2004 and 70 receptions for 917 yards with nine TDs during the 2005 season, his production declined under Philip Rivers' offense in 2006.
McCardell made just 36 receptions for 437 yards and no TDs in 14 games despite being the Chargers' 4th leading receiver in '06. During the 2007 offseason, the Chargers released the veteran wideout after three seasons in San Diego.
14 Eric Parker
Eric Parker signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent wide receiver in July 2002. Parker previously played college football at the University of Tennessee, recording 64 receptions for 829 yards with three TDs in his college career. Parker made 139 catches for 1,927 yards from 2002 to 2005 until Philip Rivers took over as the Chargers' full-time quarterback 10 years ago. Parker performed decently under Rivers' offense, making 48 catches for 658 yards but scored zero touchdowns in 15 games during the 2006 season. The Chargers finished 14-2 that season, mostly due to Tomlinson's historical season.
Parker also caught two passes for 42 yards in San Diego's 24-21 loss to the Patriots in the 2006 postseason. The Chargers released Parker in July 2008 after not playing a game in the 2007 season.
13 Vincent Brown
Vincent Brown came into the NFL as San Diego's third-round draft choice in 2011 out of San Diego State University. Brown recorded 19 receptions for 329 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games as a rookie for the Chargers. But Brown missed all of 2012 because of an ankle injury he sustained in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. Brown recorded 41 receptions for 472 yards in his second season with San Diego but scored one TD. Brown then signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders in September 2014. He made just 12 catches for 118 yards in seven games during Oakland's 2014 season.
The Chargers brought back Brown for his second stint in 2015 but he played just one game. Brown recorded a 22-yard reception in his lone appearance that season, and he would be released by San Diego last December.
12 Chris Chambers
In the 2001 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected wide receiver Chris Chambers 52nd overall from the University of Wisconsin. Chambers recorded 48 receptions for 883 yards in his rookie season and played seven years for the Dolphins. As Chambers played six games into the Dolphins' 2007 season, they traded him to San Diego for a second-round draft pick in October. Chambers made an immediate impact in Philip Rivers' offense recording 35 catches for 555 yards & four touchdowns in 10 games that year. Although Chambers had a productive 2008 season with 33 catches for 462 yards and five TDs, the team released him in 2009 after hauling in nine catches for 122 yards in seven games.
Chargers teammates Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee provided better offensive production than Chambers in '09. Floyd had 11 receptions for 251 yards, and Naanee made 13 catches for 122 yards. Chambers would finish his career with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2009 to 2010.
11 Legedu Naanee
The San Diego Chargers drafted wide receiver and Boise State product Legedu Naanee in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Naanee played 13 games for San Diego in '07 and recorded 69 receiving yards. Naanee's shining moment came in the fourth quarter of San Diego's 2007 divisional game vs. Indianapolis, catching a screen pass from San Diego backup Billy Volek for a 27-yard gain to the Colts' 15-yard line. Naanee's big reception set up Volek's TD run that gave San Diego a playoff win. Naanee had an expanded role in 2008 but struggled with eight receptions for 64 yards and no touchdowns.
However, his offensive production improved with the Chargers in 2009 with 24 catches for 242 yards and two TDs, and in 2010 with 23 catches for 371 yards. Naanee spent one season with the Carolina Panthers in 2011 and last played for the Miami Dolphins in 2012.
10 Stevie Johnson
The Buffalo Bills selected Stevie Johnson from Kentucky in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Johnson played six seasons at WR for the Bills with a very productive 2010 season with career-highs in catches (82), receiving yards (1,073) and touchdowns (10). In fact, Johnson became the first player in Bills franchise history to record three straight 1,000 yard seasons from 2010 to '12. Buffalo traded Johnson to San Francisco in 2014 and made 35 receptions for 435 yards and three touchdowns with the 49ers. In March 2015, Johnson signed a three-year, free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers. However, Johnson somewhat struggled to produce offensively as Philip Rivers' target last season. He recorded 45 catches for 497 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games during the Chargers' forgettable 2015 season. Johnson injured his knee in Chargers training camp this year and head coach Mike McCoy stated that he would miss San Diego's 2016 season.
9 Robert Meachem
Robert Meachem began his NFL career as a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints in 2008. Meachem's best season came in 2009, recording 45 receptions for 722 yards and nine touchdown catches under the leadership of Saints' head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. Meachem added four catches for 25 yards in New Orleans' run to their first Super Bowl title in team history. Before the 2012 season began, the San Diego Chargers needed to replace Vincent Jackson after he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bolts would sign Meachem to a four-year deal worth $25.9 million.
Rivers felt Meachem was a guy who brought speed to the Chargers but failed to produce offensively. Meachem caught just 14 passes for 207 yards and two TDs in 2012. The Chargers would release Meachem with three years left on his deal in 2013.
8 Dontrelle Inman
WR Dontrelle Inman made a name for himself with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts in 2012 and '13, recording 100 receptions for 1,542 yards and 11 touchdowns over two seasons. Inman helped the Argos win a Grey Cup championship on their home field in 2012, but the team released him in December 2013. The Chargers inked the ex-CFLer to a reserve/futures deal in January 2014, shortly after San Diego defeated Cincinnati in the Wild Card round. Inman's 2014 season with Rivers and the Chargers was less than productive for him. Inman played seven games and made 12 catches for 158 yards and no touchdowns that season. Inman remained on the Chargers' roster for 2015 and improved on his offensive stats, recording 35 receptions for 486 yards with three touchdowns, but had two fumbles last year. San Diego retained Inman for 2016 and he has been underwhelming thus far.
7 Patrick Crayton
Patrick Crayton began his NFL career in 2004 with the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys' veteran receiver had a career-high 50 receptions for 697 yards and seven TD catches in 2007. Crayton made 196 receptions for 2,888 yards with 23 touchdowns over six seasons in Dallas. Once the Cowboys selected WR Dez Bryant in the first round of the 2010 draft, Crayton wanted the team to release him. Dallas would trade him to San Diego for a seventh-round draft pick under the condition that if Crayton made 40 or more catches in 2010, the Chargers would update it to a sixth-round pick. Although Crayton recorded 28 catches for 514 yards and played nine games in his first season, he struggled in the 2011 season with 23 catches for 248 yards in 14 games played. Crayton lasted just two seasons in San Diego.
6 Eddie Royal
Eddie Royal played the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Denver Broncos. Royal achieved career-highs in receptions (91) and receiving yards (980) as a Broncos rookie in the 2008 season. Despite Royal having a less than productive 2011 season with a career-low 19 catches for 155 yards, the Chargers signed him to a three-year contract in 2012 after four seasons in Denver. Royal played 10 games in a disappointing 2012 season for the Chargers, recording 23 receptions for 234 yards with one touchdown. However, Royal recovered from his down season by recording 631 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions during the 2013 campaign and picked up 778 yards in the 2014 season.
San Diego did not re-sign Royal in time for 2015 and is currently under contract with the Chicago Bears.
5 Micheal Spurlock
Micheal Spurlock played nine NFL seasons as a wide receiver and kick returner for eight different teams over his career. Spurlock spent the 2009 to 2011 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers until the San Diego Chargers signed him to a one-year deal in April 2012. Spurlock recorded zero receptions in the Bolts' first four games of the 2012 season but fielded one punt for a return of five yards. The Chargers waived Spurlock on October 3rd to free up a roster spot for cornerback Chris Carr since injuries ravaged their secondary unit. Two days later, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Spurlock and picked up 121 receiving yards with one TD. The Jags waived Spurlock after six games in November 2012.
San Diego would re-acquire him off waivers, and he made nine catches for 79 yards in another four games with the Bolts. Spurlock continued his career until 2014 with stops in Dallas, Detroit, and Chicago.
4 Craig "Buster" Davis
Buster Davis began his NFL career in San Diego, as the team drafted him out of Louisiana State University in the first round of the 2007 draft. Under the leadership of Philip Rivers, Davis recorded 14 catches for 188 yards and one TD reception in 14 games played during the 2007 season. Unfortunately, Davis failed to stay healthy in his last three seasons with the Chargers. Davis played just 12 games from 2008 to 2010 with 31 catches for 400 yards over that span.
In fact, Davis ended the 2008 and 2010 seasons on the Bolts' injured reserve including season-ending groin injury in 2010. The Chargers released Davis during the 2011 offseason and has not played in the NFL since. You wonder how he could have been if he stayed healthy.
3 Kelley Washington
Kelley Washington began his NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 and stayed there until the 2006 campaign. Washington continued his career with the New England Patriots from 2007 to '08 and the Baltimore Ravens in 2009, until the San Diego Chargers decided to sign him in November 2010. Kelley Washington came to the Chargers' organization with 107 receptions for 1,327 yards and 11 TD catches in his career.
Washington's tenure with the Bolts was mostly forgettable. He recorded 13 receptions for 173 yards and caught one TD pass from Rivers in eight games played. The Chargers did not retain Washington for the 2011 season. The Chargers just seem to always acquire receivers at the wrong time of their careers, when they are worn down from age and injuries.
2 Javontee Herndon
Javontee Herndon played college football for the Arkansas Razorbacks, playing 49 games and recorded 62 receptions for 910 yards and seven touchdowns in his NCAA career. Herndon went undrafted in the NFL, but San Diego signed him to a rookie deal in 2014 and attended Chargers training camp. Although the Bolts waived Herndon on August 30th, 2014, they re-signed him two days later and spent the entire '14 season on the Chargers' practice squad. Herndon played his first NFL season in 2015 as a wide receiver and special teams returner for both kickoffs and punts. Herndon played just eight games at wideout, catching 24 passes for 193 yards and zero touchdowns. On the other hand, Herndon managed to return 11 punts for 81 yards and fielded seven kickoffs for 157 yards last season.
1 Seyi Ajirotutu
Seyi Ajirotutu came to the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2010. A 6-foot-3 wide receiver out of Fresno State University, Ajirotutu had an impressive 2010 preseason with five receptions for 106 yards and posted a good regular season. Ajirotutu made 13 receptions for 262 yards and a couple of touchdown catches in 2010. Even though Ajirotutu played the 2011 season with the Carolina Panthers, he returned to San Diego for 2012. In Herndon's second tour of duty, he caught a mere 10 passes over the 2012 to 2014 seasons with the Chargers despite the fact they used him as a special teams player in 2014 with 19 tackles and earning San Diego's special teams player of the year award. Ajirotutu last played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015.