Philip Rivers to Enter Free Agency, Leave Chargers After 16 Seasons
Jason B. Hirschhorn
The Los Angeles Chargers entered the offseason hoping to have a resolution on quarterback Philip Rivers prior to free agency. The team has now made that decision. On Monday, the Chargers announced that their longtime starting quarterback will enter free agency, ending his tenure with the organization after 16 seasons.
"After stepping back a bit from last season, we reconnected with Philip and his representatives to look at how 2019 played out, assess our future goals, evaluate the current state of the roster and see if there was a path forward that made sense for both parties," general manager Tom Telesco said in a team statement. "As we talked through various scenarios, it became apparent that it would be best for Philip and the Chargers to turn the page on what has truly been a remarkable run."
In the same statement, Rivers expressed gratitude for his time in the Chargers organization.
"I never took for granted the opportunity to lead this team out on to the field for 235 games," Rivers said. "We had a lot of great moments, beginning in San Diego and then finishing in LA. I wish my teammates and coaches nothing but the best moving forward."
Rivers, whose contract expires in March, endured a difficult 2019 season with the Chargers. He tossed 20 interceptions and committed 23 turnovers in total while the team dropped nine of its 11 games decided by a touchdown or less while posting a 5-11 overall record. Despite the inconsistent play, Rivers stated his desire to continue his career. "As I stand today, as long as somebody wants me, I'll be playing somewhere," he said following Los Angeles' season finale, adding, "But as honest as I can answer right now, if one of 32 teams want me and it's the right situation, and I can start that 225th game in a row, I'll be running out there."
During a season-closing press conference, general manager Tom Telesco said left the door open for Rivers to return for a 17th season. "In a perfect world, No. 17 is your quarterback forever," Telesco said. "I hope that I'm not offending Dan Fouts when I say that. [Rivers] has meant everything to this organization. You work with different players differently. He has been here for a long time. When I talk with him, he's a joy to work with. Nobody has a better perspective on what goes on -- not only just with him, but with the football team -- than he does."
However, the decline in his play as well as the opportunity to find a quarterback of the future in a well-regarded 2020 draft class or perhaps land an established veteran like New England Patriots signal-caller Tom Brady in free agency clouded Rivers' future with the Chargers. Rivers also moved his family from its longtime home in San Diego to Florida, further complicating the situation.
In the end, the Chargers determined that their best option involved parting ways the quarterback that has started every game for them since 2006.
While Los Angeles will now spend the upcoming weeks further diving into its options under center, Rivers will hit the open market for the first time in his career. Teams with uncertainty at quarterback such as the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could make a play for the 38-year-old gunslinger. Additionally, if Brady does depart New England this offseason, the Patriots could conceivably have interest in Rivers as well.
"I'm not sure what the future holds," Rivers said, "but my family and I look forward to seeing what God has planned for us next."
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH