End of an Era
Philip Rivers Becomes Free Agent
February 13, 2020
Chargers and Rivers Agree to the End of an Era
The Los Angeles Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers have announced that they have mutually agreed to part ways, ending their 16-year relationship. Rivers will be entering free agency at the age of 38.
Replacing his production will not be easy. Rivers leaves the Chargers owning more than thirty team records. He holds records in passing yards with 59,271, in touchdowns with 397, in completions with 4,907 and wins with 123. He had 235 consecutive starts with the Chargers, which is 2nd all-time to Brett Favre, who had 321. He has thrown for over 4,000 yards in 11 of the past 12 seasons and in seven consecutive seasons.
Rivers, who was first player selected in the 2004 draft, was selected by the New York Giants in that draft and traded to the Chargers for Eli Manning, who was selected by the Chargers as the No. 4 pick overall in the first round of the 2004 draft. Manning wanted to play in New York and the Chargers granted his wish, trading him to the Giants.
For Rivers, he is now a free agent and can go anywhere. His best option would appear to be with the Indianapolis Colts. The head coach with the Colts, Frank Reich, was the Chargers quarterback coach in 2013 and offensive coordinator in 2014 & 2015. After the Colts opening day loss to the Chargers this past season, Reich referred to Rivers as an "elite quarterback."
The Colts lack that at quarterback. Jacoby Brissett is not a bad quarterback, but he is not an elite quarterback. Rivers was ranked 4th in passing yardage in 2019. Brissett was ranked 29th in passing yardage. The Colts have an excellent offensive line, something that the Chargers did not have this past season. Rivers could take the Colts to the playoffs with the talent currently on the roster.
Rivers has indicated that he would like to play for two more seasons. He will be missed on the Chargers. He had 32 game winning drives in his Charger career, none bigger than when the Chargers beat the Chiefs in 2018 at Kansas City. The Chargers trailed 28-14 with less than four minutes left in the game. The Chargers rallied for a pair of touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the final 3 minutes 49 seconds to stun the Chiefs, 29-28. That win clinched the playoffs for the Chargers.
The final winning touchdown and two-point conversion came with four seconds on the clock. The big play on the final drive was a 26-yard completion on a 4th and seven with just over a minute to go. It was a beautiful pass and reception by Travis Benjamin for a first down at the Chiefs ten-yard line. It was a huge play under pressure.
The Chargers will have several options at quarterback, starting with free agency. Tom Brady, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston could all be available in free agency. Head coach Anthony Lynn would likely want a quarterback with better mobility than Rivers had, but Brady would be hard to pass on and he would help put fans in the seats at the new Sofi Stadium in Inglewood.
Signing Mariota and drafting a quarterback in the first round might be the solution. If the Chargers got either quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or quarterback Justin Herbert in the first round of the draft, that might be a good fit with Mariota, who has known Tagovailoa since he was in 4th grade and played at the same school (Oregon) that Herbert played at. Or adding Mariota to compete with current backup Tyrod Taylor and No. 3 quarterback Easton Stick is another option to look at.
But the Chargers will be different in 2020. They may be better, but they will not be the same. The leadership and competitiveness that Rivers brought every day will be missed and difficult to replace. His trash talking will also be missed and probably never replaced. He was always honest in post-game interviews and made himself available to answer any question. That will also be missed.