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The California sun sets on Philip Rivers: Where to next?

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Roar Guru
7th February, 2020
2

There appears to be a changing of the guard in the city of angels.

After rounding up the family and moving from the Southern California sunshine to the equally beautiful state of Florida, quarterback Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers both look to have made their intentions abundantly clear.

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer announced on The Herd recently that the Chargers franchise had “moved on” from its long time signal-caller.

While there has been no official announcement, the move is an ominous sign considering Rivers’ reluctance to relocate 127 miles (204 kilometres) up the highway when the Chargers franchise relocated from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017.

If Rivers is indeed finished in LA, it will bring to a close the career of one of the franchises’ most revered characters, and a player that entered the league in extraordinary circumstances after being drafted fourth overall by the New York Giants in 2004 only to be traded to the San Diego Chargers later that evening after Eli Manning, the Chargers’ original choice at pick one, refused to sign for them.

Rivers will step out as the Chargers all-time leader in wins (123), passing touchdowns (397), passing yards (59,271), pass completions (4,908) and overall passer rating (95.2).

Having started an incredible 224 consecutive games (second all-time to the great Brett Favre with 297) and leading a perennial failure of a franchise to six playoff appearances, nobody could accuse Rivers of not doing all he could to bring success to a franchise that has won nothing since its American Football League debut in 1960.

Those same people could, however, accuse Rivers and his Chargers of being the league’s biggest underachievers of the last decade and a half.

In 2007, after finishing with the best record in the NFL at 14-2 and being Super Bowl favourites according to most pundits, the Chargers would lose a crushing divisional round home playoff game to the New England Patriots. The next season, the Chargers would again have their season ended by the Patriots, this time in the conference championship game.

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The Chargers would never return to the AFC decider with Rivers at the helm.

With the 38-year old Rivers now residing in Florida permanently, its interesting to ponder what might be next for the veteran signal-caller.

With two of the three Florida teams (Miami and Jacksonville) possessing top-ten picks in the upcoming NFL draft and expected to go in a non-veteran direction at the quarterback position, conventional wisdom suggests only Tampa Bay as a legitimate landing spot for Rivers.

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For second-year Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, signing Rivers would be a real sense of deja vu.

It was Arians, after all, who coaxed a seemingly washed-up Carson Palmer from Cincinnati when Arians was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

In five seasons in the desert, Palmer made one Pro Bowl while leading the Cardinals to two playoff appearances, including one NFC championship game.

The only hurdle that appears to stand in the way of a Rivers renaissance in Tampa under Bruce Arians is maligned quarterback Jameis Winston.

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But when a coach admits that his team can win with anybody if it can with you, as Arians said recently about the Bucs ability to win in spite of Winston’s tendency to throw the ball to the other time, perhaps there is no hurdle to speak of.

The fact that both Rivers and Winston are free agents makes this potential marriage even more exciting.

When the Los Angeles Chargers move into their beautiful new stadium in Inglewood, California next season, they will likely be doing so with a brand-new rookie quarterback.

In doing so, the franchise would be unceremoniously leaving behind a player that put it all on the line for the franchise during the 16 previous seasons.

Though it is true Rivers’ production dropped off considerably in 2019, it will be a long time before anybody surpasses the statistical records set by Philip Rivers over his 14-year career as starter for the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers.

A long, long time.