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Philip Rivers Free Agency Outlook: Where will he play in 2021?

With the end of his 17th NFL season approaching, QB Philip Rivers will have to decide if he will come back, retire, or test free agency.

Philip Rivers Free Agency Outlook: Where will he play in 2021?
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the Indianapolis Colts drops back in the pocket and looks to make a pass play against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second quarter at Heinz Field on December 27, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

While the Indianapolis Colts are still battling to continue their season, QB Philip Rivers may have some of his thoughts on the future as well. With a trip to free agency upcoming, Philip Rivers will have to choose between testing the waters, returning to Indianapolis, or hanging up the cleats by choosing to retire. One of the last members of his 2004 draft class remaining, Rivers has a difficult decision ahead of him. Fantasy football managers are waiting in the balance.

Will Philip Rivers return to the Colts in 2021?

Many believe that if Philip Rivers plays in 2021, this is the only option. Rivers (39) has never been one to jump from team to team throughout his long career. After spending the first 16 seasons with the Chargers organization, Philip Rivers came to Indianapolis via free agency to wear a different jersey for the first time. 

The Colts were coming off a season they never saw coming. Following the unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck in the preseason, they turned to Jacoby Brissett for the 2019 season. The team went 7-9 while missing the playoffs. One noticeable aspect missing was the willingness to push the ball downfield. Now, this is not saying the Colts wanted someone to play like Jameis Winston, but a QB who would take a shot. That is what Rivers has brought to Indianapolis.

Rivers by the numbers

Rivers’ 4,169 passing yards are 10th in the NFL for 2020 and is the 12th time in the last 13 seasons he has thrown for over 4,000 yards. His interception total (11) was the lowest since 2017. Also, Philip Rivers’ 68% completion rate is nearly three percent higher than his career average, which is not a small sample size.

The Indianapolis Colts are a win-now organization. You could make a strong argument that Colt’s GM Chris Ballard has been the best at his position in the NFL since taking over. They have reloaded on defense, brought in weapons on offense, and have upgraded the offensive line. Something they failed to do during the Andrew Luck-era. Another one-year deal makes a lot of sense for both Indianapolis and Philip Rivers for 2021.

Will Philip Rivers retire in 2021 or test free agency?

If Philip Rivers is not wearing a horseshoe next season, the prevailing theory is that he will retire. On Sunday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport stated that Phillip Rivers would either stay a member of the Colts or would retire.

Rivers’ took a one-year, $25 million deal for one final shot at glory that has evaded him during his career. Rivers could flip the narrative from a likely Hall of Famer to getting fit for a gold jacket with a Lombardi Trophy on his mantle.

Weighing his options

There is no denying his impressive résumé, which has been aided by longevity. Philip Rivers has played in 244 regular season games during his 17-year career. Since taking over the reins back in 2006, Rivers never missed a start. His 63,440 passing yards and 421 touchdowns are fifth all-time. About to make his 12th start in the playoffs, Rivers has been able to amass eight Pro Bowl appearances in his 17 seasons. Outside of a Super Bowl, what’s left to prove?

Philip Rivers hit free agency, landed with a former coach of his in Frank Reich, and was on a win-now team with a chance to compete for an AFC title. That’s not a scenario that is likely to replay itself. Also, who wants to pack up and move again with nine kids? 

If I were to place my money on what happens, I think this is the likeliest scenario. It’s worth noting that back in May, Rivers accepted the head coaching position of St. Michael Catholic High School’s football team. The job is waiting for him once he is done playing. Decisions like that make you think he is looking forward past his playing days.

If Philip Rivers tests free agency, where could he land?

2021 will have no shortage of vacant quarterback openings. While most teams will look to the incoming rookie class, bringing in someone like Philip Rivers makes a lot of sense.

Say you have a QB who needs some time to develop like Jordan Love last season in Green Bay or Florida’s Kyle Trask in the 2021 class. Bringing in Trask from the draft and Philip Rivers via free agency allows flexibility and reduces the stress on who you think is your future. We have to remember that guys like Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow are rare. Few rookies come in and look like seasoned veterans out the gates. 

You would be hard-pressed to find a better quarterback in the NFL to mentor your team’s future than Philip Rivers. He is the consummate professional and has the respect of every player in the NFL. 

In PFN’s Draft Analyst Nick Farabaugh’s latest 4-round mock draft, he has Trask going to the Chicago Bears. They could bring in Rivers to mentor the young QB as his skills develop. 

If he tests free agency, Philip Rivers wants to go to a competing team

With little, if any, time left in the NFL, I don’t see Rivers wanting to waste it not competing. His goal is to win a Super Bowl. But the list of teams who could realistically win one and could use a new QB is very slim.

San Francisco 49ers are a team that comes to mind. They are likely going to move on from Jimmy Garoppollo, and going with a veteran makes sense. They were decimated by injuries and are just one year removed from winning the NFC.

Another option potentially is the Dallas Cowboys. It is not that they need a QB as Dak Prescott is phenomenal. The issue is the two sides seemed to be far enough apart in contract negotiations before the season to make you wonder if they can get a deal done. Personally, I think they have to do it and will. After all, what Jerry Jones wants, Jerry Jones gets.

If they can’t, pairing Rivers up with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Ezekiel Elliott, and Blake Jarwin makes for a very compelling team. The ceiling is not the same as Philip Rivers is a statue in the pocket. But he can keep the Super Bowl aspirations up in Dallas for at least one more season. Will a move to Dallas be enough to keep Philip Rivers from retiring? 

Want more fantasy football analysis and news?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @PFN365 to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2020 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while again seeing our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.


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