U-T columnist Kevin Acee created headlines this week, and not only in San Diego.

“No one will say it,” Acee told the NFL Network, “but I think that 2013 is the final audition of Philip Rivers.”

NFL.com followed with a story: “Philip Rivers facing last shot with the San Diego Chargers?” ESPN spun off a similar piece.

Rivers has been quarterbacking the Chargers for so long, it’s odd to think he’d be doing something else as soon as 2014.

Only 31, he’s not missed a start since opening the 2006 season behind center.

I expect Rivers to be quarterbacking the Chargers after this year. But I think Acee is right that it’s an urgent time, for Rivers and the team.

Acee based his assumption on the Chargers’ decision not to restructure Rivers’ contract this season despite the team’s tight salary cap situation.

This is the year that Rivers’ contract, renegotiated in 2009, happens to peak in cap value. The $17.11 million, worth 13.9 percent, will drop more than $2 million in 2014. Acee said the Chargers’ decision to sit tight on Rivers, rather than create cap space by reworking his deal, “speaks volumes.”

Rivers, I would guarantee, believes he’s in “prove it” mode every season.

The difference now is that he’s coming off two mediocre seasons, in which he had more turnovers than anyone other than Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Too, A.J. Smith and Norv Turner, two beneficiaries of Rivers’ excellence for several years, no longer work at Chargers Park.