Chargers And Rivers Part Ways

16 years.

Jim Rome
February 11, 2020 - 9:19 am
Philip Rivers

USA Today

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While it’s in no way surprising, it is now official. The Los Angeles Chargers and Philip Rivers have agreed to mutually part ways. A conscious uncoupling, if you will. In a joint statement, GM Tom Telesco said:

"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. 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. We agreed that making this decision well before free agency would allow everyone to put themselves in the best position for success in 2020.”

For his part, Rivers said ”I am very grateful to the Spanos family and the Chargers organization for the last 16 years. In anything you do, it's the people you do it with that make it special. There are so many relationships and memories with coaches, support staff and teammates that will last forever, and for that I am so thankful. I never took for granted the opportunity to lead this team out on to the field for 235 games. 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.”

None of this is surprising. You could start to see some faint writing on the wall when Rivers didn’t move his family north from San Diego. And that writing started to become more and more visible throughout the course of the season when there was even talk of benching the Charger icon. And by the time we got to the offseason, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that both sides would be moving on.   

That said, while he didn’t win a super bowl with the Bolts, he had a helluva run with them, putting up huge numbers: Just shy of both 60,000 passing yards and 400 touchdowns. 8 Pro Bowls and a lot of bolo ties. Seventy 300-yard games. 224 consecutive starts, the most by any quarterback not named Brett Favre. An iconic career by just about any metric.   

And again, no, it didn’t include a Super Bowl, but that isn’t for a lack of effort or a lack of battling. Six playoff appearances as a starter, which is less than he and the team would’ve wanted, but it included that absolutely ridiculous, epic showing in the AFC Championship game in Foxboro on a torn ACL and meniscus.

That was the very definition, the epitome of toughness and bad-assery. And then coming back 100 days after the surgery to be ready for minicamp.  

It says absolutely everything that you need to know about Rivers that his greatest game wasn’t the 500-yard game against Green Bay or the comeback against Kansas City in 2018, it was the loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Because he knew how close he was to a Super Bowl and he gave it absolutely everything he had and more than just about any other person could.  

And he talked a ton of trash. Not just trash, but clean trash, which makes it even more awesome. Because that’s not easy to do. Detroit Lion Darius Slay and I talked about that on Radio Row.

And if you want further evidence that it really is possible to talk clean junk, here it is:

But just because he keeps it clean, that doesn’t mean he’s won’t get nasty. He will. And. He’ll give you what for. He’ll give you some horse mess.

There is only one Philip Rivers. 

I could do an entire three hour show of Philip Rivers talking junk and horse mess. And it would be awesome. 

But that would overlook all the other things he’s done. So even though it was clear that this was coming, and it was only a matter of when, not if, Rivers and the Chargers would go their separate ways, it’s still weird to think of him not with the Chargers. Still nearly impossible to imagine him in someone else’s uniform.

It will be weird as hell, dadgummit. How weird would it be to see Philip Rivers with a horseshoe or a pirate flag on his helmet? Dadgummit, it will be really weird. 

And yes, he wants to continue playing. And yes, there are going to be opportunities out there for him. Maybe in Indianapolis with Frank Reich. Or with the Titans, who aren’t too far from where he grew up. And then there have been the suggestions about Tampa Bay if they decide to move on from Jameis Winston or Jacksonville if they aren’t convinced Gardner Minshew is totally ready.

There are going to be places to go and, as rough as last season was, and yes, there have been signs of decline, it still wouldn’t surprise me to see Rivers light it up in the right situation. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be bizarre. It will be. Because he’s a Charger through and through, even if he doesn’t end his career with them.

 It’s been an amazing ride with the Chargers, Philip. You’ve been all class and did everything within your power to deliver that franchise and that city, San Diego, not Carson, the ultimate trophy; and I respect the hell out of it. And respect the hell out of you. I’ll miss that cat in So-Cal, but I’m anxious to see he lands and what he does next.  And like your hat says, big dawg., now you begin. 

The next question for Charger fan now. What’s next? The constant person and franchise player you’ve had for the past 16 years in Phil Rivers is now gone. A dude who answered the bell every single game. The guy who set the standard for the entire organization. A guy who when he was on your roster, fair or not, you believed you actually had a shot against most teams on any given Sunday.

Yes they were a disappointing 5-11 in 2019. But remember, this was a team a season ago a lot of people had beating the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs in foxborough.

I mean they were, and are still loaded with some nice talent. The NFL is a league where if you if have a difference maker like Rivers at the quarterback position you can flip the script quickly back to contention. Yes, he wasn’t great last season, he’d admit that but now what do you have at quarterback?

Look, I like Tyrod Taylor and I think he gives the team a nice option where you don’t have to be desperate in pursuit of another quarterback. He’d also be a great person to have around if you use that 6th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on one of the young slingers coming out. But I don’t see Taylor as your long term answer. And I don’t think he pushes you back to that 2019 team you had.  

So, again… What’s next? I do see them going with a much better athlete at quarterback than Phil. Anthony Lynn loved Taylor’s athleticism in Buffalo, and you’d have to believe he wants that dual threat option again for his next quarterback.

Let’s face it, Phil’s a lot of things, but mobile isn’t one. And let’s be honest too. Yes, Phil didn’t have a great 2019, but he didn’t have a line either. A non-elusive quarterback and that offensive line had disaster written all over it.

Now, I expect the 2020 free agency market to be an absolute quarterback frenzy, so that’s always an option. But Charger fan, I see a hell of a lot closer to a rebuild than I did a year ago when I saw you as Lombardi contenders.

I guess some good news though, it’s not like a lot of people will be watching. Just kidding, Charger fan. Kind of.