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Report: Longtime Chargers, Current Colts QB Philip Rivers Retiring from the NFL

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

According to San Diego Union-Tribune writer Kevin Acee, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers is retiring from the NFL after 17 NFL seasons.

The longtime Chargers quarterback was set to become a free agent after finishing a 1-year, $25 million debut deal with the Colts. He was presumably going to take the opportunity to contemplate continuing his playing career this early offseason—having already had a post-playing career job lined up to become the head football coach at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama.

However, while his retiring isn’t actually surprising, the early timing of it might be:

“It’s just time,” Rivers said via the Union-Tribune late Tuesday night from his home in Indianapolis. “It’s just right.”

“I can sit here and say, ‘I can still throw it. I love to play,’ ” Rivers said. “But that’s always going to be there. I’m excited to go coach high school football.”

Reportedly sounding “100 percent at peace” with his decision, Rivers finishes his arguable Pro Football Hall of Fame career, having completed 5,277 of 8,134 passes (64.9%) for 63,440 passing yards, 421 touchdowns, and 209 interceptions during 244 career games (240 starts)—spanning 16 seasons with the Chargers and 1 final season with the Colts.

The 8x Pro Bowler, as the former 4th overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, finishes his NFL career 5th most all-time in completions (5,277), passing yards (63,440), and passing touchdowns (421) respectively—in what’s been no doubt a long, great career.

Despite playing through a nasty turf toe injury in 2020, and other injuries through the years (including a torn ACL), Rivers was also a modern day ‘NFL ironman’—having made 240 consecutive starts.

He finished his sole season in Indianapolis, completing 369 of 543 passes (68.0%) for 4,169 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions during all 16 starts in 2020.

His 68.0% completion rate was the 2nd best in Colts all-time franchise season history—behind only Peyton Manning (68.8%) in 2009.

While the Colts fell short of their ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl Championship this past season, Rivers helped lead the team to an 11-5 record and a return to the playoffs—just a year removed from franchise quarterback Andrew Luck abruptly retiring.

Rivers was a tremendous leader, competitor, and provided a solidifying starting quarterback for the Colts behind center. The 39 year old Rivers came with his athletic limitations in the twilight of his playing career, but he still had success (and got by) with his accuracy, anticipation, pocket presence, and great understanding of NFL defenses.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard made the following comments in his end of season press conference last week:

“Alright, so here’s the discussion I had with Philip. And I’ve had it with Frank (Reich). And I’m talking with Mr. Irsay this afternoon. Do I think Philip can still play? Absolutely, I do. Philip and I had an hour talk yesterday. He’s going to take some time, and we’re going to take some time, and we’ll meet in about a month and see which way we’re going to forward.”

However, that ‘month’ has now been fast-forwarded to today, as Rivers has already elected for retirement it seems.

It does give the Colts more time to get a lay of the available starting quarterback landscape—knowing full well that Rivers isn’t returning now and to more seriously pursue potential veteran options out there (instead of merely flirting with them).

Those veteran trade options could include the likes of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott, Philadelphia Eagles Carson Wentz, or maybe even the Las Vegas Raiders Derek Carr—should any of them become seriously available.

The Colts could also elect to select a first round top rookie quarterback all together.

However, two things are now clear: Rivers had a great NFL career which has concluded and will be limited to just a one-year successful stint in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, the Colts will seriously be in the starting quarterback market again for a consecutive offseason—with just graduated rookie quarterback Jacob Eason under contract for 2021.

Here’s hoping Rivers enjoys retirement with his wife and large family though—after what’s been a great ride. While his Colts career was short, it was still impactful, daggummit.