The quarterback dominoes continue to fall. As Judy Battista of NFL Network first reported, free agent Philip Rivers
was closing in on a deal with the Colts. Now it's done.
Per multiple reports, the Colts are giving Rivers a one-year, $25 million contract.
It’s a big all-in move on a 38-year-old quarterback for a team that was on the verge of the playoffs for much of last year, even after the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck
They just traded their first-round pick for DeForest Buckner and gave him a huge deal to solidify their defensive line, and now they’re trusting a solid young core to an elder quarterback.
As it is a one-year deal, there’s room for the Colts to do other things at the quarterback position this offseason. They could draft a quarterback to develop behind Rivers this season or they could stick with Jacoby Brissett
with an eye on possibly going back to him after Rivers is done.
Brissett is signed for 2020 with a salary of $6 million and he’s due a $7 million roster bonus on Sunday, so the Colts have a few days to make a call on his status for the coming season.
Remember, GM Chris Ballard made it clear on the regular that the "jury is still out" on Brissett.
And while he flashed at times this year and demonstrated an underrated ability to fend off rushers before creating off script, Brissett had issues.
He finished the season with 2,942 yards and an excellent 18-6 TD-to-INT ratio in 15 games, showed himself to be a gamer by returning early from an MCL sprain in midseason and kept the Colts in the playoff hunt for most of the season despite a very banged-up receiving corps.
Still, his average of 6.78 adjusted yards per attempt ranked 23rd among 42 QBs
to throw at least 100 passes in 2019.
Meanwhile, Rivers has direct connections in Indy.
Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni previously worked as a Chargers assistant for five years. The relationship between Rivers and Sirianni would make a transition easier for a player who was with the same franchise the past 16 seasons.
"They run the same playbook, so it'd be easy," former teammate Melvin Gordon
said of the Colts. "He could come right in and he could be telling guys what to do, he knows what's going on already."
Beyond that, Colts head coach Frank Reich has a relationship with Rivers after working as the Chargers QB coach in 2013 and coordinator from 2014-2015. The ties between Rivers and the Colts' coaching staff made it a logical potential destination.
Indy also provides Rivers the best offensive line he's played behind.
That said, Rivers isn't coming off an impressive season after posting a 23-20 touchdown-to-interception ratio and with his Chargers finishing 5-11.
It was enough for Los Angeles to deem it unwise to retain Rivers, who not surprisingly believes he has something left in the tank.
Remember, Rivers, who owns more than 30 Chargers' records, ranks inside the Top 10 of the NFL's all-time lists in numerous categories.
His 123 career regular season victories as a starter rank ninth in NFL history, ahead of the likes of Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Jim Kelly. Sitting at No. 6 on the all-time touchdowns list with 397, ahead of John Elway, Montana and Unitas, Rivers joined Drew Brees
, Tom Brady
, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre
and Dan Marino this past season as the only players to eclipse 58,000 career passing yards. His 70 300-plus passing yard performances, more than all-time greats Marino and Favre, are good for fourth in NFL history behind only Brees, Peyton Manning and Brady.
Now, he'll be adding to those numbers with another team.
For the record, Colts wide receivers caught just six deep passes in 2019, the fewest in the NFL by four. It follows that they also had the lowest catch percentage on deep passes (17.6). Given how strong the offensive line and run game already are heading into 2020, optimizing the passing game is likely a main priority.
Rivers is the first piece of that puzzle, but adding help at wide receiver beyond T.Y. Hilton
is also necessary. We'll see if the Colts continue their effort in that regard via free agency or the NFL Draft.