Colts QB Phillip Rivers Announces Retirement
The search for a new quarterback in Indianapolis is officially underway as 17-year veteran, Phillip Rivers announced he's hanging up his cleats and calling it a career.
Rivers released the following statement about his decision, that was shared by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Twitter.
Rivers spent the first 16 years of his career as the starting quarterback for the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers despite not being their first choice with the number one overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. The team initially picked Eli Manning first overall, but after the quarterback said he would not play for them, they traded him to the New York Giants in exchange for Rivers who they had selected with the fourth pick.
Despite having a throwing motion that looks like he's trying to chuck a shotput more than he's trying throwing a football, Rivers ends his career fifth overall in passing yards (63,440), completions (5,277), and passing touchdowns (421).
The eight-time Pro Bowler ends his career having never played in a Super Bowl. The closest he came was an appearance in the 2007 AFC Championship game with the Chargers which ended in a 12-21 loss to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
He joined the Colts last offseason after the Chargers decided it was time to move on by selecting University of Oregon quarterback, Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 Draft. The move to Indy reunited him with Frank Reich who served as his quarterbacks coach then offensive coordinator with the Chargers for three seasons.
The thought of Rivers becoming the Colts starting QB was a tough pill to swallow for some fans, myself included. I was never a Rivers fan during his time with the Chargers for a couple of reasons, first he just always seemed to have the Colts number. No matter how good or bad the Chargers were in a given season, he always seemed to find a way to beat them, going 6-2 against them for his career, with two of those wins knocking them out of the playoffs. The year he made it to the AFC Championship, he beat the Colts, who were heavily favored in that game, to get there. He came back the following year, and knocked them out again in overtime during the 2008 Wild Card game. The Colts went 12-4 that year. The Charges were 8-8.
Secondly, I was not a fan of his cockiness. He was always running his mouth to opponents, regardless of well or poorly he played, and would often be spotted by cameras on the sidelines with a pouty look on his face when things or calls didn't go his team's way. He had what a friend of mine once called a "punchable face," because you wanted to punch him when you saw him trash talking or looking dumbfounded over a call that went against him. He was a master of getting under your skin if he wasn't on your team.
With that said, I must admit, as the season progressed, my tune changed. I started to realize all the trash talking and the what-I-perceived-to-be pouting was all because he loves the game of football, and he wants to win which he did. Although it wasn't always pretty, the Colts ended the season at 11-5 and a playoff appearance. They looked like a competent football team again, something they hadn't looked like for a few seasons. Even in the close games, I thought we had a chance to win because Rivers was under center. I didn't have that feeling during the 2019-2020 season with Jacoby Brissett running the offense.
Rivers will now make his way to Alabama to take over the head coaching position at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama. A job he accepted in August of 2020, just over a month before the start of what ultimately ended up being his last season of professional football.
The question now becomes what will the Colts do with the starting QB position? Jacoby Brissett will become a free agent when the new league year begins on March 17th, and despite what they say publicly, the team has already shown they don't believe he's the answer, or they wouldn't have signed Rivers in the first place. They have Jacob Eason who they drafted in the fourth round of last year's Draft, but with last year's offseason training thrown completely upside down, and all preseason games cancelled due to COVID, they haven't had an opportunity to see what he's capable of in a game situation. They'll pick 21st in the first round of this year's Draft, but the chances of them finding a quarterback at that spot they can feel confident starting on day one of the season is slim.
Rumors have been circulating the Detroit Lions could be interested in trading QB Matt Stafford, who still has two years left on his current contract, if the what they get in return is worth it. There's also speculation the Philadelphia Eagles may entertain trading Carson Wentz, who expressed his desire to play elsewhere after being benched the final few games of the season. Like Rivers, Wentz has history with Reich who was the Eagles offensive coordinator when the team won the Super Bowl in 2018.
Fortunately, Rivers making his decision now instead of mulling it over for another month or longer gives the Colts a good amount of time to weigh their options. Time will tell which one they choose.
[Source: Adam Schefter on Twitter]