Philip Rivers

West Notes: Ray, Rivers, Thomas

Most of the fifth-year option decisions this offseason were no-brainers, but what the Broncos would do with respect to Shane Ray‘s 2019 option was a little tougher to predict. Ultimately, Denver chose to decline the option, which means that Ray will be eligible for free agency following the 2018 campaign, and head coach Vance Joseph believes that the chance to hit the open market will make the Missouri product especially motivated to produce at a high level this year.

Joseph said (via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post), “[Ray] is really motivated. He understands it’s business. And he’s ready for a challenge. He wants to be a great player and, in my opinion, before he got hurt last year (early in training camp) he was on his way to having a great year. I am not surprised that he is motivated and engaged. The ball is in his court. He can earn a lot more than what the option offered him if he goes out there and does what we think he can do.”

As O’Halloran notes, however, this could be Ray’s last season with the Broncos regardless of how he performs. If he does well, he could price himself out of Denver’s budget, and if he struggles, the Broncos may not want him back anyway.

Now for more notes from the league’s west divisions:

  • Joseph is not only impressed with Ray’s effort level this spring; he is also pleased by what he has seen from the Broncos‘ marquee free agent signing, Case Keenum. Joseph said (via the same piece linked above), “[W]atching Case the last couple of weeks on the field, man, he’s a lot better than I remember. It’s definitely a good thing to watch him lead the guys and watch the guys respond to him. It’s refreshing for all of us to be in the presence of a veteran quarterback who has command. I think everyone is loving the fact we have a quarterback in place that can lead this team from spot 1, and that’s good for all of us.” 
  • In response to a reader’s question as to when the Chargers should plan for Philip Rivers‘ retirement, Eric D. Williams of suggests that it won’t be anytime soon, and that Rivers could play for another five years. After all, Rivers, 36, has already indicated he would like to play for a few more seasons, the club has not drafted a QB since 2013, and in addition to his continuing strong performance, he has not lost an ounce of motivation or even mentioned retirement, per quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen. And, as Williams notes, Rivers — who has not missed a start in more than a decade — predicates his game on anticipation and moving within the pocket, so loss of speed is not a huge issue.
  • Rayshawn Jenkins, whom the Chargers selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft, was primarily a special teams contributor in his rookie campaign, but as Williams notes, Los Angeles is giving the Miami product a shot at free safety this offseason. The team is intrigued by his athleticism, speed, and physicality, and the hope is that he can use those qualities to become a consistent presence on the defensive side of the ball.
  • Whether the Seahawks will trade Earl Thomas this offseason has been something of an open question over the past few months, but it sounds as if his next contract — he is eligible for free agency next year — will not come from Seattle. As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets, even though Thomas will command top dollar, the Seahawks could pay him if they wanted to. But in light of Thomas’ age (29), the fact that the team is in something of a retooling phase, and what has happened to some of the Seahawks’ older players over the last few years, Seattle seems unlikely to make the kind of commitment that Thomas is looking for.

Draft Notes: Mayfield, Rosen, Cards, Nelson

The expected recipient of this season’s Heisman Trophy, Baker Mayfield figures to generate plenty of opinions during the pre-draft process. Some of the immediate responses from NFL evaluators have been positive following the Oklahoma senior’s dominant regular season. Albert Breer of surmises from the several-dozen scouts he’s spoken to throughout the season that Mayfield should wind up as a first-round pick, his baggage notwithstanding.

He’s extremely talented,” an AFC college scouting director told Breer. “Guys want to play for him, players believe in him, the staff believes in him. I’ve heard the comparisons to (Drew) Brees, (Johnny) Manziel, (Russell) Wilson, and there’s a little bit of all of them in his game. And he’s not Manziel in terms of the off-field stuff — he studies his ass off; he goes through his progressions; he’s not a typical spread QB. He has first-round ability.”

Mayfield’s height, around 6-foot, could be an issue for some teams. And his Big 12 background may as well. But Breer expects a first-round investment to occur.

Here’s more on Mayfield and other key prospects.

  • Daniel Jeremiah of polled five NFL execs regarding Mayfield’s best destination and didn’t get one definitive answer. While some quarterback-needy teams came up, two decision-makers mentioned the Saints and Chargers as Mayfield fits. Both suggest multiyear apprenticeships behind Brees and Philip Rivers. However, a source told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report Rivers’ resurgence has “basically shut down” the prospect of the Bolts making a quarterback-of-the-future pick in the upcoming first round. Rivers turned 36 on Friday.
  • Josh Rosen is the likeliest of the likely first-round quarterbacks to start from Day 1, a group of seven executives polled by Yahoo Sports concluded. The UCLA passer’s throwing motion is “as elite as it gets for a prospect,” Charles Robinson of Yahoo writes. That septet of execs rated Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Mayfield as the Nos. 2-4 prospects and likely first-rounders. Darnold’s elongated throwing motion and tendency to bail on plays, in the mind of some evaluators, could cost him the No. 1 spot. Allen received the “project” label in this piece, but the Wyoming product’s size/speed/arm strength combination could be enticing — especially come workout time.
  • On Allen, Miller notes the Cardinals are connected to the current junior signal-caller. Miller writes the Cardinals abandoned their first-round quarterback crusade after Patrick Mahomes went to the Chiefs at No. 10, with the team declaring it was going to delay its Carson Palmer succession strategy a year. Allen may be the next guy the Cards are eyeing, viewing his athleticism and potential — and presumably the likelihood he won’t be a top-two pick like the Pac-12 passers — as Mahomes-esque. That might not mean much at the moment, with Mahomes having yet to play, but Miller expects Allen to be a top-10 pick. That’s more than could have been said for Mahomes at this point in last year’s process. The Jets remain the team that’s done the most work on Allen, however.
  • In a post connecting teams with prospects, Miller notes the Bears are “all about” Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. However, the draft analyst notes the Bears are expected to land a top-10 pick. Ridley, in his mind, does not qualify for such an investment.
  • Notre Dame’s offensive line figures to produce two first-round talents in tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson. While McGlinchy’s name has hovered on draft radars longer, Bucky Brooks of notes Nelson is viewed as the better prospect among scouts. One scout declared Nelson was the best prospect he’d seen this season “by far.” Miller notes the Broncos have Nelson rated as the top offensive lineman on their early board.
  • Cowboys coaching and scouting sources told Miller the team doesn’t expect to be holding mid-first-round picks much in the near future, and he writes the team will pursue a higher-end pass rusher “while it can.” That’s bold thinking for a team that is 6-6 and has missed the playoffs in five seasons this decade, but the Cowboys did earn home-field advantage last season. And the need for an impact end remains.

Philip Rivers Cleared To Play On Sunday

The Chargers will have their franchise quarterback when they face the Bills at home on Sunday. The team has announced that Philip Rivers has cleared the league’s concussion protocol and will be active for the team’s 10th game of the season, according to Eric Williams of The soon-to-be 36-year-old veteran signal caller hasn’t not started a regular season game since 2005, when he was the clear backup to then starter Drew Brees in San Diego.


Rivers has been progressing on schedule throughout the past week and it seemed more and more likely that the all-star QB would play as the week went along. While the not the same player he was in his prime, the former fourth overall draft pick back in 2004 has maintained low-end starting caliber numbers in his 14th year in the league. Rivers has passed for over 2,250 yards in nine games in 2017, throwing 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His QBR stands at a meager 43.1 through 10 weeks with him ranking as just the 24th best quarterback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Nevertheless, Rivers is a much better option than backups Kellen Clemens and Cardale Jones to roll out on gameday. Jones only appeared in one game for the Bills during his rookie season, while Clemens has only attempted 10 passes since 2014. At 3-6, the Chargers seem to be on the outside looking in of the postseason pitcure, even with what looks to be an underwhelming race for the final wild card spot in the AFC. Still, Los Angeles must beat Buffalo this weekend if the team hopes to have any shot in pushing for a playoff spot during the final two months of the regular season, which now looks like much more manageable task with Rivers expected to play in Week 11.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Philip Rivers In Concussion Protocol

The Chargers could be without their quarterback this weekend. Coach Anthony Lynn announced tonight that Philip Rivers is in the concussion protocol (via the team’s Twitter account). This would be a tough blow to a Chargers squad that has dropped two in a row.

Philip RiversRivers has been remarkably durable during his 13-year career, as he hasn’t missed a regular season game since taking over as the full-time quarterback in 2006. The 35-year-old also hasn’t shown any major signs that he’s slowing down. In nine games this season, Rivers has completed 60.1-percent of his passes for 2,263 yards, 15 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

If Rivers was forced to miss any time, Kellen Clemens would likely earn the start for the Chargers. The 34-year-old hasn’t had an extended run as a starter since 2013, when he played in 10 games (nine starts) for the Rams. That season, Clemens completed 58.7-percent of his passes for 1,673 yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He’s played in 17 games with the Chargers since joining the organization in 2014. The team is also rostering former Bills draft pick Cardale Jones, who appeared in one game with Buffalo last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Restructure Philip Rivers’ Contract

The Chargers created some additional cap space on Tuesday by restructuring Philip Rivers‘ contract.

A day after nearly leading the Bolts to a dramatic comeback win in Denver, Rivers agreed to convert $3MM of his base salary into a signing bonus, Field Yates of reports (on Twitter).

This will create $2MM in cap space for the Chargers, who hold just less than $10MM in space, according to OverTheCap.

Los Angeles’ decision will add $1MM to each of Rivers’ ensuing two cap figures, which reside at $22MM and $23MM, respectively. Rivers’ four-year, $83.25MM contract runs through the 2019 season. The 14th-year quarterback is attached to an $18MM cap figure this season; that figure remains the highest on the Bolts by a healthy margin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, set to enter his age-35 season and his 14th in the NFL, doesn’t see retirement on the horizon. “I don’t want to hang on at the end and just be a guy that’s hanging on,” Rivers told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “But if I still feel like I can help a team and I enjoy it the way I do and more importantly, if the team feels that I can help them. … I don’t see myself shutting it down any time real soon.” Rivers, who still has three years remaining on his contract, posted the fifth 30-touchdown and eighth 4,000-yard campaign of his career last season, though he also tossed a personal-worst 21 interceptions as a member of an injury-plagued, five-win team.

  • Like Rivers, Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski would like to continue his career into the foreseeable future. One key difference between the two is that Janikowski is already on the cusp of his 40s. Nevertheless, the 39-year-old’s aiming to remain the Raiders’ kicker when they relocate to Las Vegas in 2020. “I hope so, that’s my goal,” he said, via the Associated Press. “That’s not my decision.” Janikowski will be 42 when the Raiders move, which isn’t an unprecedented age for a kicker to play at (the Colts’ Adam Vinatieri is 44, and ex-Raider George Blanda lasted until he was 48, notes the AP), but it would make for a remarkable run with one franchise. Janikowski is entering his 18th year with the Raiders, who raised eyebrows when the then-Al Davis-led organization chose him 17th overall in the 2000 draft. The ex-Florida State Seminole has generally been effective for the Raiders since, including when he made 29 of 35 field goals last year.
  • One of Janikowski’s Raiders teammates, quarterback Derek Carr, is a candidate to receive a record contract worth $25MM-plus per year prior to the season. But Bill Barnwell of is somewhat skeptical of Carr and the Raiders, arguing that it will be tough for either to replicate their 2016 performances this year. Carr will have difficulty avoiding negative regression on both his paltry interception rate (1.1 percent) and lofty fourth-quarter comeback total (seven) from last season, while the Raiders probably won’t win 12 games again unless they dramatically improve their point differential, Barnwell contends. Oakland only outscored its opposition by 31 points last season, leading to a Pythagorean Expectation of 8.7 wins. Additionally, the club went a hard-to-sustain 8-1 in games decided by seven or fewer points.
  • Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin told PFT Live on Thursday that the manner in which the Chiefs notified him of his release earlier this month left him “upset” and “shocked.” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey informed Maclin via voicemail that the team was moving on from him after two years, 131 receptions and 10 touchdowns. Maclin also confirmed that the Chiefs tried to trade him and never asked him to take a pay cut, as Mike Garafolo of reported two weeks ago.

Draft Notes: Chargers, Buccaneers, Jets

The Chargers have been connected to a number of quarterback prospects, including DeShone KizerPatrick Mahomes and Josh Dobbs. Current signal-caller, veteran Philip Rivers, understands why his team would start looking for an heir apparent. However, the 35-year-old was also adamant that he’s not looking to give up his role anytime soon.

“I think it’s to be expected they’re going to get a young guy in the room to try and develop him and groom him,” Rivers said (via’s Eric D. Williams). “It doesn’t by any means really affect me. I think it’s healthy for me. … This thing doesn’t last forever. I have to get to playing better and keep this thing going as long as you can.

“As long as I do that, then whoever it is they bring in here, they’re going to sit for a while.”

Rivers finished this past season with 4,386 yards, 33 touchdowns, and a career-high 21 interceptions.

Let’s take a look at some other draft notes…

  • The Buccaneers have shown interest in a pair of safeties, according to’s Jenna LaineObi Melifonwu (Connecticut) and Budda Baker (Washington). The organization is also eyeing wide receivers Chris Godwin (Penn State) and Rodney Adams (South Florida), offensive tackle Julien Davenport (Bucknell), running back Kareem Hunt (Toledo), and tight end Michael Roberts (Toledo).
  • According to Tony Pauline of, Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan didn’t show a whole lot of speed during his school’s Pro Day, but he looked solid in positional drills. The defender previously met with the Saints, and he had dinner with the Jets on Thursday night.
  • There were a number of offensive line coaches at Utah’s Pro Day, including staff from the Jets, Browns, Jaguars, and Lions. Offensive tackle Sam Tevi was impressive during the workouts, and the big man has drawn particular interest from both the Saints and Patriots.
  • Eastern Washington doesn’t have their Pro Day until early next week, but that didn’t stop some coaches from visiting their top prospects. The Cardinals and Buccaneers reportedly visited campus to work out defensive lineman Samson Ebukam. 

Jets Notes: Decker, Trades, Revis

Jets wideout Eric Decker recently underwent hip surgery, and the 29-year-old is also awaiting an operation to repair his partially torn rotator cuff. Despite these setbacks, Decker said he wouldn’t miss any games in 2017.

“I’m not worried about missing any time next year,” Decker said on ESPN New York (via Darryl Slater of “I’ll be fine by the start of next year.”

Decker will be on crutches for a few more weeks, and he’ll have his shoulder surgery once he’s recovered from his hip operation. The shoulder should take about eight months to recover, which should line up perfectly with offseason workouts.

“I think they say eight months is kind of the time frame where you’re back to full strength lifting,” Decker said. “But there are a lot of guys that say after six weeks, after eight weeks, they feel pretty good. And then it’s a matter of obviously strengthening the shoulder.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the Gang Green…

Chargers’ Philip Rivers Restructures Contract

Philip Rivers has agreed to move some of his money around in order to help the Chargers’ fiscal situation. Rivers inked a reworked deal on Wednesday that will see $6MM of his $16.5MM salary this season converted into a roster bonus, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego tweets. The adjustment creates $4.5M in cap space for the Chargers. Philip Rivers

Rivers signed an extension with San Diego last summer and that deal should keep him in place through the 2019 season. The veteran showed no signs of slowing down in 2015 as he led the league with 437 completions and racked up 4,792 passing yards to go along with 29 touchdown passes.

Rivers’ contract makes him the ninth-highest paid quarterback in the league in terms of annual average. His $20.81MM AAV is only bested by Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, and Eli Manning. Rivers will try and lead his team to a better mark than the 4-12 record they had last year. The Bolts’ season opens on Sunday when they face off against the Chiefs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Fisher, Aldon, San Diego, Broncos

With fifth-year option decisions due Tuesday, May 3, the Chiefs are procrastinating — at least publicly — on their choice on whether or not to pick up Eric Fisher‘s.

I know a lot of guys have been exercising these options on players right now,” Chiefs GM John Dorsey said (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “I do things a little bit different. I think what I do is, I’m, at times, compartmentalizing a little bit too much. So really, the task at hand, for me, is to make sure we nail this draft. And I think when we get to Monday, we’ll deal with Monday.”

Fisher would be due a guaranteed-against-injury $11.9MM in 2017 if the Chiefs pick up their left tackle’s option. The No. 1 overall pick in 2013, Fisher improved last season after an unremarkable initial two years. But at $11.9MM, he’d stand to be the fourth-highest-paid tackle in 2017 — behind only Tyron Smith, Trent Williams and Anthony Castonzo. And by waiting until the draft is over, the Chiefs appear to be keeping their options open regarding their blind-side protector’s future, considering he hasn’t yet shown himself worthy of a cornerstone-type contract similar to the ones the aforementioned players received.

Kansas City has already participated in extension talks with Fisher in a likely effort to bring that prospective $11.9MM cap number down for a franchise that doesn’t look to have much cap space come next year, with most of its key players locked in for the next two seasons.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West.

  • Speaking at a stadium rally in San Diego on Saturday, Roger Goodell endorsed keeping the Chargers in the city and said that if the downtown stadium initiative goes through, the Super Bowl will return to San Diego. “I said it. I mean it. The Chargers belong in San Diego,” the commissioner said (via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, on Twitter). The Super Bowl last came to the city in 2003, with Qualcomm Stadium — now considered one of the worst in the game — hosting Super Bowl XXXVIII.
  • Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson and Dean Spanos also spoke in support of the $1.8 billion stadium/convention center project, although as Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune points out, the words “convention center” weren’t spoken by any of the guest speakers at the signature-collecting showcase that drew around 4,000. “I mean, dadgumit. … It just makes sense right? I hope I’m still around to play in it. Let’s get it done together,” said Rivers, who wasn’t enthusiastic about relocating to Los Angeles when the subject surfaced last year.
  • Aldon Smith‘s trial is set to begin May 2, Scott Bair of reports. The recently re-signed Raiders edge presence faces three charges from the August 2015 incident that led to his release from the 49ers — DUI with a prior conviction, hit and run and vandalism under $400 — according to Bair. Smith remains suspended for a substance-abuse policy violation and can’t return to aid the Raiders on Sundays until November, but the sixth-year veteran must be reinstated by Goodell. That hasn’t been a smooth process for recent offenders.
  • Free agent linebacker Nick Moody remains on track to testify at Smith’s trial despite a judge issuing a warrant for his arrest for failure to appear in a Florida court to confirm this, Florio reports. Moody now insists his failure to appear in court Friday stemmed from a miscommunication. Moody spent two years with the 49ers before playing in three games with the Seahawks in 2015.
  • The Raiders are showing “serious interest” in Utah interior lineman Siaosi Aiono, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
  • The Broncos spent plenty of time trying to re-sign Brock Osweiler and Malik Jackson, and the defending champions added two tackles expected to start during the offseason. But they released Owen Daniels and didn’t make an attempt to bring back Vernon Davis, who signed with Washington. This could be due to the team’s high hopes for second-year tight end Jeff Heuerman, who missed his rookie slate with a torn ACL. “We expect (Heuerman) to step in and be a force,” GM John Elway told media, including Troy Renck of the Denver Post. “We’re counting on (Heuerman) big time,” Gary Kubiak said. “We feel like Jeff can be a total tight end. He’s not just a receiver. We think he has the ability to do both (catch and block).” A former third-round pick, Heuerman wasn’t known for his receiving chops at Ohio State. The 6-foot-5 tight end hauled in 792 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in four years, playing extensively as a junior and senior. Virgil Green is the only experienced tight end on the roster, so it may behoove the team to add some depth at this spot.