Philip Rivers has been told unequivocally that he will not be a Los Angeles Charger in 2020 for the first time since 2004.
Rivers, the free agent, will turn 39 during the regular season in December, but nowadays age isn’t the deciding factor when it comes to playing quarterback in the NFL, with old-timers like Brady (42), Drew Brees (41) and (perhaps) Ben Roethlisberger (37) still keeping their teams in the playoff hunt at their (relatively) advanced age.
The question now becomes which team will take Rivers for his final glory days (assuming he still has a few left in him), and here we take a look at the predictions and odds of the NFL franchises that could actually use a veteran leader like Philip Rivers on their roster.
Philip Michael Rivers is a 38-year-old professional quarterback originally from Decatur, Alabama who has played in the NFL since the 2004 season for the Los Angeles Chargers after playing at NC State for four years.
Rivers is 6’5” and 228-pounds and was initially drafted by the New York Giants in 2004, then immediately traded to the Chargers (with some future draft picks included) where he has started 224 games beginning in 2006, posting a 123-101 all-time record during his period with the Chargers.
Though he’s never been to the Super Bowl, Rivers has been to the Pro Bowl eight times and has brought his Chargers to the playoffs in six of his fourteen seasons with them under three different head coaches.
Rivers is happily married to his junior high school sweetheart, Tiffany, and they have nine (yes 9) children in their family.
With Rivers as the starting quarterback, the Los Angeles Chargers have only been to the playoffs once in the last half dozen seasons, the final straw being the team missing the postseason for two of the last three years, including 2019.
Chargers’ general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Anthony Lynn apparently had had enough and in February they let Rivers know they were going to be moving in a different direction in 2020.
Rivers still has plenty of gas left in the tank, ranked fourth overall in production last season with 4,615 passing yards and 23 touchdowns (though his 20 interceptions were a definite red flag), plus the man is made of iron – he hasn’t missed a game since he became a starter in 2006.
The world started to spiral out of control the moment Philip Rivers left the Chargers. We should have seen this coming. pic.twitter.com/RkA2LmNdtz
— Mr. Bunch (@darinbunch) March 14, 2020
If a thirty-eight-year-old player decides to retire from the NFL, most fans typically wouldn’t blink an eye, but if it becomes Philip Rivers hanging up his cleats at this point in his career, it would be a bit more shocking.
That’s because Rivers can still play – aside from his abnormally high number of interceptions last season (20), he played good football and put up respectable stats overall, so it’s obvious he can continue to get the job done and still seems motivated enough to try somewhere.
But if nobody shows interest in Rivers or they only offer him low money that’s below his asking price, he may decide to call it quits and end his NFL career a healthy man despite never having been to the Big Game, and he wouldn’t be the first player to ever have to do that.
But don’t bet on it.
Plenty of known and unknown names have been floating around as possible quarterbacking candidates for the 2020 Los Angeles Chargers.
Veterans who have been mentioned through possible trades or free agency are:
But these are all quarterbacks who have outstayed their welcome (and effectiveness) elsewhere and represent no long term solutions for the Chargers.
The other possibility is through the NFL draft, and the names mentioned in that conversation are Justin Herbert of the Oregon Ducks and Jordan Love of the Utah State Aggies, but having a rookie as the starter right out of the gate could prove to be disastrous if the transition takes too long.
There are ten NFL franchises that oddsmakers have predicted could go after free agent Philip Rivers and here we look at each of them a little more closely.
First, we’ll analyze why having Rivers on each team would make sense, and then we’ll talk about why the deal will never happen.
Why it makes sense: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were convinced that new head coach Bruce Arians and new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich could cure whatever ails quarterback Jameis Winston, but despite their best efforts he still continues to turn the ball over at an unacceptably high rate, leading the league with 30 picks last season.
While Rivers wouldn’t be a permanent solution in Tampa Bay, he would offer a solid replacement to Winston and be able to fill in for the two seasons it could take to get a young drafted player up and running in the big leagues.
Why it will never happen: Why pay Rivers big money for two seasons ($40-50 million?) to babysit the team and go nowhere or slightly further when you could put a talented (and inexpensive) rookie under center and within half a season, he would most likely begin to figure things out.
Arians and Leftwich were hired to build a future in Tampa Bay, and best-case scenario, Rivers represents a temporary fix, but worst-case he could be a financial albatross weighing down an organization still attempting to slowly rebuild.
Why it makes sense: There is no way that Mitchell Trubisky stays in Chicago after the embarrassing season he had in 2019, so it makes perfect sense to bring in a veteran like Rivers to run the Bears’ offense that’s basically a quarterback short of being excellent.
With Rivers handling the offense and making even just the basic passes that Trubisky was failing to complete, the Bears have a chance to make another run at the playoffs like they did in 2018 before their franchise quarterback suddenly and mysteriously forgot how to play football.
Why it will never happen: Chicago does not want to spend all of that money on Rivers when they can solve their problem with the first of their two second-round draft picks by selecting Jacob Eason from Washington who has a talented arm that, with some NFL coaching, could get the job done.
Rivers threw a lot of interceptions last season (20 of them, in fact – third-most in the league) so the Bears are not likely going to take a chance on trading Trubisky’s throwing troubles for the ones that could come along with the aging Rivers.
Why it makes sense: The Carolina Panthers have seemed ready to move on from quarterback Cam Newton for the last couple of seasons now, so it makes good sense to bring in a veteran like Rivers who could take over the leadership role that has been left empty ever since Newton began to suffer his multiple injuries.
New Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule and his offensive coordinator Joe Brady could easily plug a veteran like Rivers into their Christian McCaffrey led offense knowing Rivers would be able to pick it up quickly and run the squad like a pro.
Why it will never happen: Rhule and Brady are new, so they most likely will want to start their run with a talented young quarterback they can build a future (and roster) around.
The Panthers have the seventh overall pick in the draft, so they could easily select one of the top quarterbacks in the 2020 class, like Tua Tagovailoa, the star from Alabama who will make an immediate impact in the NFL and who could still be available.
Why it makes sense: The Indianapolis Colts have said (respectfully) that Jacoby Brissett is not the quarterback of their future, so they are certainly in the market for someone new under center.
Given their situation in Indianapolis, the only reason someone like Rivers would make sense for the Colts is if Andrew Luck could eventually be persuaded to return to the game and they needed someone to fill in for a couple of seasons until that miracle finally happened.
Why it will never happen: The Colts just went through a painful season where their hero retired and his backup couldn’t get them to the playoffs, so they are in no mood to take a chance on an old man like Rivers who may not have anything left in the tank.
Instead of spending all that capital on a veteran set in his ways like Rivers, it makes more sense for Indianapolis to use that money to fill in some other roster holes they have (like offensive tackle, for instance) and snag a talented kid in the draft that can be developed, like Utah State’s Jordan Love, if he’s still available.
Why it makes sense: With Marcus Mariota on his way out, the Tennessee Titans could use a guy like Rivers on their roster to compete with Ryan Tannehill for the starting spot, leaving an amazing backup regardless of whoever wins the role.
Having a veteran like Rivers in the quarterback room would also help the young players like Tannehill and Logan Woodside develop, leadership that someone with Rivers’ vast experience could provide.
Why it will never happen: The Titans seem ecstatic with Tannehill as their franchise starter, so it makes no sense to bring in someone of Rivers’ experience and caliber and cost just to be a backup.
Plus, Rivers would never be happy in a backup role, so it would be a tough sell right out of the gate, and since Tennessee seemed to have lots of success once Tannehill took over it would make no sense to not give him a chance to repeat himself.
Why it makes sense: The Pittsburgh Steelers cannot afford another season with a question mark when it comes to who their franchise quarterback is and there is no guarantee that Ben Roethlisberger will still be effective after recovering from elbow surgery on his throwing arm.
Having Rivers there gives Roethlisberger more time to recover, the team truly just a decent quarterback away from making the playoffs last season.
Why it will never happen: Big Ben is already throwing the ball around and it looks like he will be able to return to playing by the time training camp begins.
And until Roethlisberger retires for good, he is the man in Pittsburgh and having someone like Rivers there threatening that role is the last thing head coach Mike Tomlin wants for his talented franchise quarterback to endure.
Why it makes sense: If GOAT quarterback Tom Brady leaves for another team, it might make sense to Bill Belichick to bring in a veteran like Rivers for a couple of seasons to run things while a younger buck learns from the sidelines.
Rivers could jump right in where Brady left off and keep the Patriots’ offense rolling with his veteran presence, their defense still being solid enough to make close wins much easier to come by.
Why it will never happen: Brady will be back (he’s gotta be, right?), so it’s most likely not even up for discussion, his love for all things New England enough to convince Patriots owner Robert Kraft to make some kind of a deal.
Plus, Rivers is too stubborn to be led by an uncompromising taskmaster like Belichick, and the opposite is just as true, so it would be like throwing gas on the fire and will not be the answer this transitioning franchise is looking for.
Why it makes sense: The Jacksonville Jaguars are totally up in the air when it comes to the quarterback position, with Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles both up for the starting role.
A veteran like Rivers could step in right away and give those two players more time to develop into the role of starter, something both looked like they could use at different points last season.
Why it will never happen: The quarterback question in Jacksonville will be answered with the players they have – Minshew and a healthy Foles will work it out during training camp and the best man will start.
Rivers would be a temporary solution at best, and Jacksonville is looking for someone to take over for the longer term, a role that Minshew and Foles have already shown they could be perfect for given more time.
Why it makes sense: With Derek Carr under center for the last six seasons, the Raiders have only been to the playoffs once (a Wild Card loss in 2016) so they could use somebody new to lead the way.
Rivers knows how to get a team to the postseason, and Jon Gruden has worked successfully with older quarterbacks before (see Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson), so together they could combine nicely to snag Rivers his first ever (and much desired) Super Bowl ring.
Why it will never happen: Derek Carr is actually a good quarterback, ranked eighth overall among NFL quarterbacks last season, and trading him out for an aging veteran in decline is not the answer the Raiders are seeking.
Sure, it would make a media splash for a hot second, but when the reality of what they did sinks in, having Rivers playing in Las Vegas won’t be as juicy, especially when the typical problems that ail the Raiders begin to unfurl.
Why it makes sense: The Miami Dolphins will be drafting a quarterback, most likely Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama, so it would be helpful to have a veteran like Rivers there for the first two seasons while the young phenom gets adjusted to the NFL.
Rivers is used to the warm climate, so he would most likely prefer to finish his career somewhere where the sun shines most of the year, and Miami is perfect for that.
Why it will never happen: Why would head coach Brian Flores bring in an expensive Rivers to do the job that a much less expensive Ryan Fitzpatrick can do about as good, especially since he’s already been there for a season.
And don’t forget, Josh Rosen is still hungry under center, so expect him to give whatever young buck they draft a run for their money, the chip on Rosen’s shoulder still as huge as his confidence.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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