Philip Rivers is retiring from the NFL. The No. Four decide within the 2004 draft spent 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers — after a draft-night swap with Eli Manning, who spent his profession with the New York Giants. Rivers completed his profession with a ultimate season on the Indianapolis Colts.
Rivers’ whole of 421 profession landing passes ranks fifth in league historical past, and his streak of 240 straight begins is second behind solely Brett Favre amongst quarterbacks. Rivers had 12 4,000-yard passing seasons and completed his profession with 63,440 passing yards, the fifth most in NFL historical past.
Rivers, nevertheless, by no means performed in a Tremendous Bowl, and his groups had a 5-7 file within the playoffs, together with a loss in the wild-card round earlier this month. His most memorable playoff second was when he played through a torn ACL in the 2007 AFC Championship Game.
We requested our panel of ESPN NFL consultants to weigh in on Rivers’ legacy, whether or not he ought to make the Corridor of Fame and what the Colts may do subsequent at quarterback:
What is going to you bear in mind most about Philip Rivers’ NFL profession?
Mike Clay, fantasy author: Watching him play quite a bit regardless of residing on the East Coast. Rivers was the Chargers’ quarterback for 16 years, which meant a majority of his video games have been throughout a Four p.m. ET slate that normally contains solely two or three video games. At occasions, Rivers was arguably the league’s finest quarterback, and his profession wound down with some unbelievable late-game shootouts. He’ll certainly be missed.
Jeremy Fowler, nationwide NFL author: His likability. His trash speak was innocent and enjoyable. Teammates love him. In a recreation that takes itself far too critically, Rivers was real and approachable. That he gave his retirement story to a longtime native columnist in San Diego, the Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee, is the proper instance.
Dan Graziano, nationwide NFL author: The non-public interactions with an awesome participant who was at all times beneficiant together with his time and perception. Speaking to him a few years in the past and doing a narrative on the trash-talking quarterback who never swears, and asking him and people round him what he says as a substitute, was some of the enjoyable tales I’ve completed. He’s a real particular person who gave every little thing he had bodily and emotionally to the sport and his teammates.
Jason Reid, The Undefeated senior NFL author: How spectacularly gifted he was. Judging by the feedback about Rivers on social media the previous few years, many appear to neglect that he may as soon as sling it with the sport’s finest. The truth that he had comparatively little success within the postseason offers yet one more reminder of how arduous it’s to win a Tremendous Bowl.
Kevin Seifert, nationwide NFL author: I will at all times bear in mind how a lot enjoyable Rivers had enjoying soccer. We may see that in his trash-talking, his competitiveness and his resolution to hunt out one other 12 months in Indianapolis after his time with the Chargers got here to a pure finish. He was essentially the most emotive, expressive participant of this era — and it was superior.
Seth Walder, sports activities analytics author: The leisure issue. He was by no means the most effective quarterback within the league, however he was good and you possibly can financial institution — with unreasonable certainty — that the sport would come all the way down to a fourth-quarter Rivers drive and hinge on whether or not his dangers paid off.
Mike Wells, Colts reporter: That I lined him for a season and by no means formally bought to fulfill him, by no means shook his hand and by no means stood at his locker interviewing him on Wednesdays throughout the week within the common season. And his distinctive throwing movement. It wasn’t perfect for many individuals, however it was adequate for him to play 17 years within the NFL and end within the prime 5 in passing yards and landing passes in league historical past.
Subject Yates, NFL analyst: I used to be lucky to be on the sidelines for the 2007 AFC Championship Sport whereas working with the Patriots. Rivers, who had simply torn his ACL within the recreation earlier than, gutted by means of the sport as if his knee have been totally intact. Few gamers personified toughness and competitiveness like Rivers, who was as gracious off the sphere in dialog as he was spectacular on the sphere.
Ought to Rivers make the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame?
Clay: Completely. As famous earlier, Rivers was one of many league’s finest passers at his peak and that peak lasted for roughly a decade. That included a run from 2008 to 2010 during which he led the league in yards per cross try in three consecutive seasons. He could be missing a Tremendous Bowl ring, however he has led his group to 9 profitable seasons, has thrown for 4,000 yards 12 occasions and has 421 profession passing touchdowns.
Fowler: Sure. The numbers are there, rating prime 5 in lots of profession passing classes. The toughness is there, enjoying in each recreation since 2006 regardless of a litany of accidents. He would not have a Tremendous Bowl, however his 5-7 playoff file is respectable, and the place you play issues. The Chargers have been lengthy thought-about the Bengals of the West Coast. He elevated the franchise.
Graziano: Sure, after all he ought to. He is prime 5 in yards and touchdowns and began 240 video games in a row. It is a foolish query, however the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame voting course of has completed dumber issues than make a man like this wait, so that you by no means know.
I will always remember lining up for a play and Phil pointing to one among our linebackers and telling him he was lined up fallacious based mostly off the blitz we have been about to run and being 100% right about it haha.
One of many smartest I’ve ever performed towards and a hell of a competitor. https://t.co/1AZxyvDafu
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 20, 2021
Reid: Objectively, sure. Simply have a look at the place he ranks in passing yards and passing touchdowns. And for many who would cite all the usual speaking factors about right this moment’s inflated passing statistics relative to days of yore, reserve it for somebody who’s . Now, will he make it? Nicely, as beforehand acknowledged, his profession lacks a Tremendous Bowl championship punctuation. And with a lot of my associates who vote for the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame, nicely, you by no means understand how they’re going to roll.
Seifert: Sure. The Corridor of Fame is for the most effective gamers of the era. Since he grew to become a full-time starter in 2006, Rivers threw for extra yards than each quarterback however Drew Brees. He tossed extra landing passes, and his groups received extra video games, than everybody besides Brees and Tom Brady. These numbers recommend a transparent qualifier.
Walder: I lean sure, however the quantity stats do not do it for me, particularly with out an period adjustment. And he was worse than plenty of his contemporaries: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and arguably Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo. However he did have 4 top-three QBR seasons, which might be sufficient.
Wells: Sure. You possibly can’t skip a participant who’s prime 5 in passing yards and touchdowns whereas additionally beginning 240 consecutive video games. It should not take lengthy for the voters to make their resolution when Rivers is up for consideration.
Yates: Sure. Sure. Sure. Sure. Sure.
Rank these QBs from the 2004 class based mostly on who was finest within the prime of his profession: Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning
Clay: Rivers, Roethlisberger, Manning. Massive Ben and Manning have the rings, however I consider Rivers was the most effective quarterback of the three. It was powerful to select between the primary two, however take into account this: evaluating his profession marks to Roethlisberger’s, Rivers has a better completion price, a better landing price, a better yards per try, an nearly similar interception price (critically) and a better QB score (to call a couple of).
Fowler: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. Successful is my tiebreaker. Roethlisberger by no means has had a dropping season in 17 years, in contrast with a mixed 9 for Manning and Rivers as full-time starters. The Steelers group had 5 dropping seasons within the 17 years earlier than drafting Massive Ben. Rivers was just a little extra prolific than Manning, whose playoff scorching streaks preserve this shut.
Graziano: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. I might say Manning had a greater profession than Rivers, due to the Tremendous Bowl titles, and Rivers would possibly even agree should you requested him. However I feel Rivers was extra persistently able to taking up a recreation and placing the group on his again, and he did it with much less assist. Powerful to rank. All three super careers.
Reid: Manning, Roethlisberger, Rivers. Though I will doubtless (undoubtedly?) take some warmth from my co-panelists, I’ve by no means been afraid to go it alone. Eye-opening statistics are a part of it, clearly, and Rivers positively checks that field. For me, nevertheless, the scoreboard is the deciding issue. Manning and Roethlisberger every have two Tremendous Bowl titles. Granted, Roethlisberger has extra Professional Bowl alternatives than Manning. Based mostly on the “eye take a look at,” many would argue Roethlisberger was simply higher by way of being an elite signal-caller. I get it. However on the sport’s greatest stage, Manning twice was chosen the Tremendous Bowl MVP. In that key class, particularly for QBs, Massive Ben has a doughnut. And Manning did it in New York. Case closed.
Seifert: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. Usually I might say that Roethlisberger’s Tremendous Bowl wins have been extra a perform of getting a greater group and group round him than Rivers did. However we will all agree that Roethlisberger has made some distinctive performs — the throw to Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLII involves thoughts — that spurred these victories. Rivers, then again, developed a late-career behavior of inopportune throws in key conditions.
Walder: Roethlisberger, Rivers … huge hole … Manning. The primary two are very shut, and I might be very open to arguments flipping them. I can not shake the Tremendous Bowl runs for Roethlisberger if I am splitting hairs between them, although consider it or not Rivers had a vastly superior postseason QBR to Roethlisberger’s over the course of each careers. Manning earned the rings however was not on the identical stage as the previous two.
Wells: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. This is not a simple resolution as a result of Manning has extra Tremendous Bowl titles, however he is coming in third on this record. We all know the place Rivers ranks on the record of passing yards and passing touchdowns, however Roethlisberger is just not far behind him in these classes and he has two Tremendous Bowl titles, which is one thing Rivers by no means completed. The fact is, you’ll be able to’t go fallacious with any of these three as your quarterback.
Yates: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. There is not an ideal reply right here, and there is a case for Manning having the best peaks together with his two separate Tremendous Bowl MVP awards. It feels nearly unfair to must rank one third, however by way of constant stage of play, I will rank Massive Ben first, Rivers second and Eli third, understanding that the reply could be perceived by many as imperfect.
Whom ought to the Colts goal as their 2021 QB starter?
Clay: Carson Wentz. It may not be fiscally cheap for the Eagles to move on from Wentz this offseason, particularly contemplating their horrible cap state of affairs, however I am within the camp that they need to be available in the market for a possible franchise quarterback. That stated, discovering a solution to get Wentz again with Colts coach Frank Reich, who helped him to his finest season in 2017, makes a ton of sense.
Fowler: Matthew Stafford. That is the man some individuals across the league focused as a Colts match lengthy earlier than Rivers retired. He turns 33 subsequent month; his contract is affordable ($20 million in money owed in 2021); and he is nonetheless a top-10 expertise. He is extra of a certain factor than Carson Wentz at this stage. However normal supervisor Chris Ballard staying affected person and taking a swing within the draft is hardly off the desk.
Graziano: Each group however about 4 or 5 needs to be concentrating on Deshaun Watson, however I do not see any approach Houston would trade him to a division team, so let’s cross that one off. I like Stafford because the Rivers-type transfer for the Colts this offseason. He’ll be accessible, comes low cost salary-wise and can be the proper veteran match for a group that is in any other case ready-made to contend.
Reid: Nicely, now that Rivers has moved from his enjoying days, a Wentz-Frank Reich reunion would make sense. Nicely, at the least for Indianapolis. Nonetheless unsure if that is essentially the route the Eagles are focused on taking.
Seifert: Wentz. Sure, he has had a couple of tough years. However it’s not as if he has by no means proven us that he may be an elite NFL quarterback. He did, in 2017, with Reich as one among his coaches. It might be a dedication, however the Colts may assist it. Additionally, this query is not enjoyable if everybody picks Stafford.
Walder: Dak Prescott. If Prescott grew to become accessible, he needs to be Plan A for Indianapolis (assuming Watson is off the desk). We’re speaking a few participant who ranks sixth in QBR — simply fractions of some extent behind Watson — since he entered the league, and would make the Colts, for my part, the AFC South favorites instantly.
Wells: Sorry to those that desire a Wentz-Reich reunion. I am taking a tough cross on that and going with Stafford. He is solely 33 years previous and nonetheless has loads of good years of soccer left for a roster in Indy that has expertise on either side of the ball, most notably in linebacker Darius Leonard and offensive lineman Quenton Nelson. And his price ticket is not steep, as he’s due solely $9.5 million in base wage subsequent season. That additionally permits for Jacob Eason, the Colts’ fourth-round decide final spring, to proceed to be taught and develop.
Yates: Stafford. Whereas new Lions normal supervisor Brad Holmes may not be intent on dealing Stafford, the Lions are a group that does profile as a possible rebuild with the No. 7 decide within the 2021 NFL draft. The place Stafford would make most sense is with a franchise during which he is usually a ceiling raiser, and we all know that Indy’s roster is lots adequate to make a postseason run. If Detroit have been inclined to maneuver Stafford, dealing a star to an AFC foe is at all times most popular to a group you would possibly see quickly (the Colts and Lions do not play once more till 2024) and would doubtless be alluring to Stafford himself.