What a career from Philip Rivers.
The former San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts quarterback has officially retired from the NFL following a one year stint with the Colts. He retires rankings fifth in both passings yards (63,440) and passing touchdowns (421) in NFL history while also having eight Pro Bowl appearances on his resume. The future Hall of Famer will be known for his incredible toughness (He’s started ever week since the 2006 season started, even playing the 2007 AFC Championship game on a torn ACL) and his ability to raise his teammates level (The Chargers have made the playoffs eight times since their 1994 Super Bowl appearance, six times with Rivers at the helm).
Another thing to note about Rivers is how well he was able to do in his lone season in Indianapolis given that the team hadn’t reached the playoffs following Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement before the 2019 as well as the emergence of the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans in the AFC South. He meshed well with a team who lost their lead running back (Marlon Mack) after the first game and their leading receiver of the past decade (T.Y. Hilton) didn’t get into a groove until midway through the season. Yet, Rivers kept the young team afloat and had them one late season loss away from winning the division for the first time since 2014. So what will happen to the Colts from here?
Graphic by @mh.grfx via Instagram
The Indianapolis Colts have only made the playoffs twice since a surprising trip to the AFC Championship game in 2014. One of those appearances came this past season with a quarterback who was basically a one year rental for a team that won nine AFC South titles from 2003-2014. So how can they get back to the top with Rivers now gone? Well they already have pieces galore everywhere. They’ll have a three-headed monster at RB with Mack, Nyheim Hines and rookie sensation Jonathan Taylor to go along with one of the best offensive lines in the game and a receiving core that including three WR’s with at least 40 receptions (RB’s Hines and Taylor combined for 99 catches in 2020 as well). Mix in their young and explosive defense featuring Darius Leonard, DeForest Buckner, and Kenny Moore and you have a team that is set to be a force in the AFC for years to come if they can get the quarterback position right.
What are their options?
The colts still have Jacoby Brissett and rookie Jacob Eason on their current roster. But is either of them truly worthy of the starting job? Brissett was their starter in 2019 and while he started off hot he faded badly during the back half of the season, essentially causing the Colts to go out and seek a veteran quarterback. I doubt he’ll be their #1 option going into 2021 and honestly I doubt even Jacob Eason will be that person entering next season.
The Colts best option moving forward is to either trade for Carson Wentz and reunite him with Frank Reich or they could maybe try to pry Deshaun Watson away from the Texans. While the Watson move would take a boatload of picks and a couple of players in return, Philadelphia may only want a couple of picks in return for their once superstar quarterback who’s still under a hefty contract. There are chirps about the 49ers potentially moving on from Jimmy G and although I doubt the Niners would, I didn’t think they’d move DeForest Buckner either and look where they moved him to. For good measure, players like Sam Darnold, Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan are also up for grabs but does a young roster want to take a chance in veterans who’ve played over a decade in the league or an upcoming fourth year player who just had his worst season to date? I doubt it, although Stafford is younger than his playing years would suggest (He’ll be 33 at the start of next season which will be his 13th season) so he actually may be a better option than most would think. Imagine Stafford playing with this loaded roster for the next 5-6 seasons as a seasoned veteran quarterback who’ll understand how to manage the game well enough for his team to always have a chance to win games… Actually that isn’t such a bad idea and I doubt it would take much to even get Stafford away from the Lions. A 2nd round pick and a future 3rd should do it for a Detroit team that is about to have a full turnover at the coaching position once again. Stafford also has zero playoff wins in the Motor city in 12 seasons so it may be time for the team to just get what they can for him while also dumping his contract and just starting all over again or they could even get Eason in return for Stafford’s services.