Philip Rivers

Colts To Bring Back Philip Rivers In 2021?

The Colts gave QB Philip Rivers a one-year, $25MM deal this offseason in the hopes that Rivers’ familiarity with Indy’s offensive system and a strong O-line will allow the 38-year-old to recapture some of his former magic. And if he does, look for the team to bring Rivers back in 2021.

[RELATED: Latest On Contract Talks Between Colts, T.Y. Hilton]

Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters, including Mike Chappell of CBS 4, that he fully anticipates a multi-year relationship with Rivers (Twitter link). That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that Reich championed the Rivers signing and has repeatedly said that he has no concerns about the eight-time Pro Bowler’s abilities at this point in his career. Plus, Rivers himself has stated that he wants to play for two more seasons, so if he performs well in 2020, it stands to reason that both sides would want to run it back the following year.

On the other hand, the Colts have also said that they still see 2019 starter and current QB2 Jacoby Brissett as a potential long-term answer, but if the team re-signs Rivers in 2021, Brissett — who is entering the last year of his current deal — will almost certainly seek greener pastures elsewhere. Indianapolis also selected Washington QB Jacob Eason in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and he could take over as Rivers’ backup next season if Brissett leaves.

Of course, this may all be a moot point. There is understandably plenty of concern about how Rivers will play this year given his difficult 2019 campaign, and though playing behind a terrific O-line will help, not all of Rivers’ struggles last season can be attributed to the Chargers’ comparatively weak offensive front. If Rivers looks more like the 2019 version of himself than the 2018 edition, then Brissett and Eason could both become starting options, and the Colts could also look for a first-round signal-caller.

Reich, however, does not expect that to happen and fully believes Rivers’ end-of-career stint in Indianapolis will cover at least two seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Ravens, Patriots, Rivers

After the Ravens added Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Mark Ingram believes his team officially has the best running game in the league.

“I like his mindset, I like his attitude, I like the way he run the ball. Just bring him and his talents to our room that’s already special; our backfield is gonna be the best in the league for sure,” Ingram told NFL Network’s Colleen Wolfe (via NFL.com’s Grant Gordon). “We’re all looking forward to it, being playmakers for the team and help us win the championship.”

Last season, Ingram and quarterback Lamar Jackson became just the second RB-QB duo to top 1,000 rushing yards in the same season (Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick did it with the Falcons in 2006). Gus Edwards also had a productive season in Baltimore, running for 711 yards and two scores. Even Justice Hill found the end zone twice as a rookie.

While the backfield may be a bit crowded, it doesn’t sound like Ingram is too concerned about carries. Rather, the veteran is focused on winning a championship, and he passed that mindset on to his rookie teammate.

“He reached out to me,” Ingram said. “Right after he got drafted, just shot me his number, said he was looking forward to getting to work. I told him let’s go get a ring.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • Sticking with Baltimore, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta told season ticket holders that the team doesn’t have a whole lot of salary cap flexibility (via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec on Twitter). DeCosta noted that if the front office did open up space, they’d likely pursue a pass rusher/linebacker or a veteran offensive lineman.
  • Reports yesterday indicated that Tom Brady‘s “deteriorating relationship” with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was a big reason why the quarterback left New England. However, Brady vehemently denied those rumors via Instagram, asking reporters to “[p]lease be more responsible with reporting” (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). McDaniels and Brady had been paired together for more than a decade, winning six Super Bowls along the way.
  • In 2019, Philip Rivers was playing behind a Chargers offensive line that ranked 29th in effectiveness, per Pro Football Focus. In Indy, he’ll be playing behind an offensive line that was ranked third by the same metric, and that’s a big reason why the veteran decided to join the Colts. “The big part of Philip being here is Anthony CastonzoQuenton Nelson,” said offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni (via NFL.com’s Nick Shook). Ryan KellyBraden SmithMark Glowinski. Those guys are studs…That’s something that he just kept mentioning after we signed him of how valuable those guys were to him.”

AFC South Notes: Colts, Ngakoue, Titans

The Colts clearly made a quarterback upgrade a top priority this offseason. In addition to the research done on Philip Rivers and Tom Brady, and a Nick Foles trade inquiry with a division rival, the Colts looked into Andy Dalton. The Colts discussed Dalton with the Bengals, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets (video link). It is not clear how far the discussions progressed, but Rapoport suggests Dalton would have needed to agree to reduce his 2020 salary. The veteran quarterback is set to make $17.5MM in base salary. The Colts viewed Rivers as a better option than Foles, Rapoport adds, and may well have felt the same about the prospect of giving up assets for Dalton as opposed to paying Rivers $25MM.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Yannick Ngakoue still wants out of Jacksonville. The franchise-tagged defensive end insists he wants a trade from the Jaguars because of issues with the franchise that do not involve money, the disgruntled defensive end tweets. The Jaguars fired executive VP Tom Coughlin late last season. Grievances came the Jags’ way due largely to Coughlin’s actions, and Jalen Ramsey expressed issues with the since-dismissed exec. Ngakoue still harboring ill will toward the franchise suggests he took issue with Jaguars staffers beyond Coughlin. Ngakoue left Jags OTAs last year, skipped minicamp and broke off extension talks with the organization. The Jags were believed to have taken the unusual step of offering Ngakoue a short-term deal. It appears he will be traded this offseason.
  • Logan Ryan remains a free agent, but it does not seem the door is closed on the veteran cornerback returning to Tennessee. The Titans have maintained talks with Ryan’s representation, Tennessee GM Jon Robinson said Wednesday. The last we heard on Ryan, the longtime starter was holding out hope for a $10MM-per-year offer. That being nearly two weeks ago points to Ryan maybe needing to settle for less.
  • Robinson expressed similar strategies regarding his team’s backup quarterback and backup running back situations. The Titans are not satisfied with these spots, though they are not ruling out respective promotions for Logan Woodside and Dalyn Dawkins. However, Robinson said the team will keep monitoring the free agent market and look in the draft for potential upgrades. The Titans released Dion Lewis, their complementary back of the past two years, and predictably let Marcus Mariota walk in free agency.
  • The Titans also will hold a kicking competition. They signed Greg Joseph off the Panthers’ practice squad last year and moved on from Ryan Succop this offseason, but Robinson adds that the team will bring in another kicker to vie for the job with Joseph. Tennessee kickers made a stunning eight field goals last season, going 8-for-18 on the season.

Colts Notes: Brady, Rivers, Brissett, Vinatieri

We heard last week that Tom Brady‘s camp had expressed interest in the Colts, but that the interest wasn’t mutual as Indy opted to roll with Philip Rivers. But Indianapolis at least looked into the opportunity, as head coach Frank Reich revealed in a video news conference Tuesday, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “I watched all of his tape from the last two years,” Reich said. “I think he’s still playing at a super-, super-high level. We know he’s the best of all time for a reason.” Still it wasn’t enough to move him in a different direction, as Reich said “we really felt like Philip was the right guy for us.”

For us, we got the guy we thought was the right fit,” he explained. “I don’t know if I’d say (Brady) wasn’t a fit. There’s always a fit when you have a great player, when you have maybe the best player of all time. There’s a lot of factors that go into these things.” One of those factors is of course Reich’s familiarity with Rivers, who he coached with the Chargers. Brady was likely attracted to the Colts’ coaching staff and offensive line, although things worked out alright for him with Tampa Bay. Still, the fact that the Colts explicitly chose Rivers over Brady is interesting.

Here’s more from Lucas Oil Stadium:

  • Reich reiterated that he didn’t feel like Rivers had lost anything physically, and called it a “crazy unique opportunity” to link back up with his old pupil, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “Just being there on the inside in the three years that I was and knowing the quarterback position like I do, I was so confident physically he was the right player and he had not lost anything,” Reich said Tuesday. “I didn’t notice any physical gifts diminishing.” He continued to rave about his new signal-caller, saying “when I tell you he’s elite intellectually, he’s at the top. There are a group of guys in the football world I would put in that category, not everybody gets those gifts. He has them.” Rivers will turn 39 in December and is coming off a down year, but he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2018. Not having to play 16 road games per year like he did in Los Angeles should help.
  • The acquisition of Rivers is sending Jacoby Brissett to the bench, and Reich spoke about him for the first time. “Honestly, he wasn’t happy about it,” Reich said after revealing he called Brissett shortly before they announced the signing of Rivers, via Wells. “But he’s a great teammate and a great leader, and I’m sure he’ll be good. Even though Jacoby isn’t a starter, but there’s nothing saying he can’t play,” he said. “We’re wide open. (Offensive coordinator) Nick (Sirianni) and I have been talking: What does it look like if Jacoby plays five plays a game? Seven plays a game? We’re open to that.” Brissett now has a $21.4MM cap hit to be a backup, so it makes sense they’d want to utilize him somehow.
  • Adam Vinatieri struggled mightily last season before being shutdown with a knee injury and having surgery. But despite now being 47, the legendary kicker is still contemplating playing another season, according to Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star. Reich said that he had seen Vinatieri at the facility rehabbing before COVID-19 closed it. “(We plan) to have a sitdown with Adam and see where he’s at once he’s a little further along in that process,” Reich said. Reich said Vinatieri hasn’t yet made a decision on whether or not to retire. If he decides to keep playing, it’s entirely possible he’ll have to find a new team. Reich and general manager Chris Ballard caught some flak for sticking with Vinatieri so long when he was struggling, and their replacement Chase McLaughlin played well down the stretch. Vinatieri missed eight field goals and six extra points before getting shutdown with four games to go last year. When he underwent surgery, he said he wanted to keep the hope for a 25th season alive.

Colts Notes: Rivers, Gates, Rhodes

There were several times during the 2019 campaign that Antonio Gates considered joining the Colts. The veteran tight end told Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star that he was close to teaming up with several of his former Chargers coaches, including former offensive coordinator (and current Indy head coach) Frank Reich, former wide receivers coach (and current Indy offensive coordinator) Nick Sirianni, and former tight ends coach (and, well, current Indy tight ends coach) Jason Michael in Indianapolis. 

“It was just so familiar,” Gates said. “Even the players had, like, similarities if that makes sense. It’s just crazy how everything works. It did look familiar and when they called plays, it just fit what we had done over the course of a decade in California.”

Considering that connection, it was natural for some to wonder if the 39-year-old would finally land in Indy to team up with his former quarterback, Philip Rivers, in 2020. However, Gates made it clear that he isn’t planning on ending his retirement.

“No, no, no,” Gates said. “Last year, I was fresh out. I was hesitant about coming back, but I always wanted to keep open the opportunity of winning a championship. I really, truly feel like the Colts have that opportunity now with Philip. But for me, I can’t be who I was, from a mental standpoint. That’s why I retired. What I would have to go through mentally and the things I’d do to prepare, I just don’t feel like I can give that effort right now. I wouldn’t want to do that to anybody.” 

Let’s check out some more notes out of Indy:

  • Gates also provided some interesting insight into why he believes Rivers chose Indianapolis. “I was in the same boat Philip is in now,” said Gates. “You understand the people you’re going to work with. They don’t have to worry about me as a human being. They know me. And they know, ‘OK, this is his ritual and how he gets prepared and gets ready.’ Sometimes as a veteran, you need that. That helps you….Say I would have gone to New England. I never played under (Bill) Belichick. He doesn’t really understand how Antonio Gates works. He wouldn’t know, I need this day off. I’ll train on this day. So he has a philosophy he’s accustomed to, therefore they have no relationship with me. All they know is what they see. And that wouldn’t have worked. And I really think it’s the same for Philip. I’m 98-99% sure that’s why he went to Indy.”
  • Meanwhile, cornerback Xavier Rhodes didn’t mince words when explaining why he joined the Colts. The veteran said defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive backs/safeties coach Alan Williams were “the big reasons” he signed with the Colts (via Joel A. Erickson of the Star on Twitter). Gannon coached Rhodes in Minnesota between 2014 and 2017, while Williams was the Vikings defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013.
  • In case you missed it, the Colts and cornerback T.J. Carrie agreed to terms Monday.

Philip Rivers On Colts, Future Plans

Philip Riversone-year deal with the Colts is, as previously reported, a $25MM pact. As Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets, that is a fully-guaranteed sum, with $12MM coming in the form of a signing bonus and $13MM coming in guaranteed salary.

We heard this offseason that Rivers was contemplating retirement, and he confirmed that was indeed the case, as Stephen Holder of The Athletic writes. The 38-year-old indicated that this offseason was the first time he considered hanging up the cleats, but his love for the game and his belief in his abilities to bounce back after a difficult 2019 campaign compelled him to come back.

“Certainly, (I’m) not coming off my best year, but a year where I still know I can play at a high level,” Rivers said. “I did it in spurts, just not consistent enough. And I love (football). It was one of those deals where we said, ‘If there’s nothing out there, then that’ll be our answer.’” 

But the Colts came calling, and as Holder writes, the team has no concerns about Rivers’ arm strength (though plenty around the league are understandably less certain about what the eight-time Pro Bowler has left). Head coach Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni, both of whom worked with Rivers as member of the Chargers’ staff, championed the signing and believe he will represent a significant upgrade over 2019 starter Jacoby Brissett.

For his part, Rivers was hoping that the Colts would reach out to him, as Mike Chappell of CBS 4 writes. “Truthfully was hoping it was going to be the Indianapolis Colts,” Rivers said. “From the standpoint of the locker room, the team and shoot, I failed to mention that offensive line. That’s a heckuva group.”

Indeed, Rivers will be protected by one of the best O-lines in the league, and he said the offensive scheme is essentially the same one he has played in since 2013. While the Colts do not have much proven pass-catching talent behind T.Y. Hilton — and there are no true difference-makers on the FA market at this point — Indy could find an immediate contributor or two in a draft that is deep at WR.

As for his future plans, Rivers, who previously indicated he wanted to play a maximum of two more years, confirmed that he wants to continue his playing career into 2021. Beyond that, though, it’s hard to say. “I’m not going to get carried away. I don’t think you’ll see me in the Tom Brady range,” Rivers said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts To Sign Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers has agreed to a deal with the Colts on a deal that will pay him roughly $25MM per year, according to Judy Battista and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’ll be a one-year pact for the Colts and the longtime Bolts star, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) adds. 

[RELATED: Colts Trade For 49ers’ Buckner]

In February, the Chargers announced that they would not bring Rivers back for another season. Things had been trending in that direction for a while, despite all of the veteran’s accomplishments in San Diego and Los Angeles. He left the Chargers after setting more than 30 franchise records, making 224 consecutive starts, and earning eight Pro Bowl nominations.

Rivers, 38, isn’t coming off of his finest season, but the Colts believe that he’ll be a substantial upgrade over Jacoby Brissett. In 2019, Rivers was picked off 20 times against just 23 touchdowns. Historically, he’s been much much better in the TD/INT department. In 2018, for example, he threw for 32 TDs with 12 picks.

Even as he moves to a new part of the country, Rivers will be greeted by familiar faces. He has close ties to both Colts head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, both of whom are former Chargers assistants.

At $25MM per season, Rivers currently falls right around the middle of the pack in starting QB salary. He’ll likely tumble in the rankings by the end of the week, but he’s also earned lots of money over the course of his career. Besides, Rivers isn’t planning on playing until his late 40s like Tom Brady – this offseason, he indicated that he’d like to play for a couple more years. It’s possible he stays on the field for longer, but he did not go into free agency looking for a long committment.

Along the way, teams like the Buccaneers and Redskins have also been linked to Rivers, but the loudest rumblings have been coming from Indianapolis. Now, they’ve got him as their new quarterback with hopes of restoring the offense to its former glory.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts, Philip Rivers Discussing Deal

The Colts have resided as a Philip Rivers suitor for weeks, and in the first three hours of the tampering period, the sides are communicating.

Rivers and the Colts have begun discussions about a deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While Rapoport cautions no deal is done, he adds that the 38-year-old quarterback is a “clear target” for the Colts.

Rivers has remained close to Colts HC Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni — both ex-Chargers assistants — and a report surfaced earlier this offseason about the quarterback and the team possessing mutual interest. Rivers has also been linked to the Buccaneers and Redskins.

Jim Irsay indicated in February that all quarterback options were in play for the Colts, who are in the market for a veteran starter for the first time since the mid-1990s. Rivers is interested in a two-year setup with a contending team, and with the Colts having voyaged to the 2018 divisional round with Andrew Luck, they qualify as a team he could assist.

 

Buccaneers “All In” On Tom Brady

The Buccaneers are “going all in” on legendary signal-caller Tom Brady, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay, of course, has been connected to Brady in recent rumors, but it was difficult to determine how serious the team’s interest was. Apparently, it’s very serious.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has generally been non-committal towards incumbent passer Jameis Winston, who, like Brady, is eligible for free agency. Stroud says Arians wants to move on from Winston, and GM Jason Licht is willing to defer to his head coach.

Licht and Arians certainly have plenty to offer Brady. The club is among the league leaders in cap space and will have plenty of money to lure Brady to sunny, family-friendly Tampa while giving him a two- or three-year deal. The Bucs also have a dynamic pair of receivers and a talented (if uncertain) tight end, and they plan to add the type of pass-catching back that Brady covets. They also plan to draft an offensive tackle to shore up his protection, and Stroud says they will probably add a receiver from the immensely deep class of collegiate wideouts.

The Bucs will also allow Brady to take charge of the offense, and the fact that Florida has no state income tax will only help the team’s push. The defense also looks like a unit on the rise, so if you squint hard enough, you can see Tampa Bay as a contender with Brady under center.

If Brady chooses to sign elsewhere, Stroud says the Bucs’ fallback options are Teddy Bridgewater and Philip Rivers, in that order. Failing that, a reunion with Winston could still be in play, but that is sounding increasingly like a worst-case scenario for the Bucs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Expecting Philip Rivers To Sign With Colts?

The Colts have been the team most closely connected to Philip Rivers this offseason. While others are linked to the eight-time Pro Bowler, the mutual interest between the Colts and Rivers has affected teams’ perception of this particular market.

Many with rival teams are expecting Rivers to sign with the Colts, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. Jim Irsay said recently all options were on the table for his team, which turned to Jacoby Brissett after Andrew Luck‘s retirement.

The Buccaneers and Redskins are also interested, likely the former more so than the latter, and a league source told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora he expects Bruce Arians to persuade Rivers to sign with Tampa Bay. The 16-year veteran moved his family to north Florida this offseason.

While the Bucs boast the superior wide receiver tandem, the Colts have the better offensive line. And Rivers’ connections to Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni, both ex-Chargers assistants, will almost certainly impact the chase for the true free agent market’s second-highest-profile quarterback. Rivers remains close with both Colts staffers.

Rivers is targeting a two-year window to extend his career and wants to do so with a team in position to contend. Retirement, however, is not off the table. ESPN has entered the Rivers sweepstakes, showing interest in the 38-year-old quarterback as an analyst. Though, the network’s plans involve several moving parts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.