After Monday’s news came via the Chargers‘ announcement they wouldn’t pursue retaining Rivers in free agency, the quarterback spoke with the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer about what his future might entail. In short: he’s pursuing playing opportunities while he still can.
“I do feel I have some emotional fire and passion still left,” Rivers said, via Farmer. “I know I have the passion for the game that I think is going to last my lifetime. And I think I have the ability left to go play at a high level.”
That high level dropped off a bit in 2019, with Rivers posting a 23-20 touchdown-to-interception ratio and his Chargers finishing 5-11. It was enough for Los Angeles to deem it unwise to retain Rivers, instead forcing itself to look ahead to the future while saying goodbye and thank you to the 16-year veteran.
That doesn’t mean he can’t find a fit elsewhere.
“Some people might disagree that I can still play,” Rivers said. “But I would say I definitely can do it. I cleaned up a few of those other things, and if I’m playing consistently, I can still do it physically.”
The physical aspect is obviously most important, but so is fit. Rivers moved his family permanently to Florida recently, where he told Farmer he and his family are “hunkering down” for now. Proximity to family was important to Rivers when the Chargers moved north from San Diego to Los Angeles, so it’s fair to wonder if that could play a factor in his upcoming career decision.
There are other factors, too, like the state of a prospective franchise and the desire teams might harbor for Rivers’ services. Rivers made it clear in his phone call with Farmer, though, that he’ll only be playing a couple more seasons.
“I can say for certain that if I’m playing, it’s a two-year maximum,” Rivers said. “Whoever the suitors are, I think that would be their hope as well. Because you never know how it goes. Shoot, if we stink it up after one year, I’m probably done. If we play really good, they’ll probably want to go again.
“Certainly you want a chance to win a championship, but it’s not just about that. If you told me right now, ‘You’re going to play for two years, and you’re going to be good. But y’all will not win a Super Bowl. Will you still play?’ Heck yeah, I’ll still play.
“So it’s not like it’s a Super Bowl or nothing. But if it’s a team where it’s going to be tough sledding and they’re two years away from even having a chance, and they led the league in most sacks given up or something, then it’s, ‘I don’t think so, guys.'”
There’s a team in Florida that might be a fit for Rivers, depending on what the Buccaneers decide to do with Jameis Winston. Indianapolis, a much farther trip north, might also be interested in Rivers’ services if the Colts are unsure about Jacoby Brissett‘s future. Neither are instant Super Bowl contenders, but with improved quarterback play — assuming Rivers can clean up the mistakes he made in 2019, as he told Farmer — they could become a surprise squad, and there’s also the potential for a pairing in Tennessee or Carolina, depending on what those franchises do with their current situations.
Rivers isn’t the only veteran potentially available, either, so none of this is as simple as placing a jigsaw piece into the puzzle. But with Rivers’ place in the last two decades of professional football, this will undoubtedly be a story to track in the coming weeks.