All Philip Rivers really wanted was a chance to play one more NFL season.
So when the Indianapolis Colts gave him a shot, the eight-time Pro Bowler took it.
Rivers officially ended his 16-year tenure with the Chargers on Saturday by signing the $25 million deal he agreed to earlier this week.
“I still love to play, I know I can play at a high level,” Rivers said on a conference call, acknowledging he was ready to walk away from football if he received no offers. “It was one of those things where we said if there’s nothing out there, then that’s our answer. But if there’s an opportunity with a team … it ended up being with this organization and that made it that much more exciting.”
A message from the man himself: <a href=”https://t.co/2clX1UcAAL”>pic.twitter.com/2clX1UcAAL</a>
The 38-year-old Rivers feels like he has plenty to offer even after one of his worst seasons.
He threw 23 touchdown passes, his lowest total since 2007, and 20 interceptions, matching the second-highest total of his career. While some blamed the troubles on a poor offensive line or Rivers trying to do too much to rally the Chargers late in games, others contended his skills were rapidly deteriorating.
‘I feel great’
Now, with a fresh start, a strong running game and one of the league’s top offensive lines, Rivers insists he will prove the critics wrong this season.
“I feel great and if I feel like I do next year then I’ll be excited to keep on going, depending on how the team feels about it,” Rivers said. “I do want to coach my oldest son [in high school]. I have two sons, they’re 12 and eight, so we’ve got a little time. I don’t think you’ll see me in the Tom Brady range, but I feel good and I feel like I can help a team win a championship.”
Rivers suspected he was headed into his first foray in free agency when he tearfully told reporters at season’s end he would not quit. In February, the Chargers made it official by announcing the two sides mutually agreed to part ways.
So Rivers, his wife and their nine children moved to the family home in northwest Florida and contemplated their options. Yes, he considered starting his long-desired coaching career even as speculation swirled about potential landing spots.
But Rivers decided he just wanted to keep playing.
Reunion with coaching staff
And when free agency opened this week, Rivers was hopeful he could reunite with Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni, two of his former position coaches, in Indy. Reich is starting his third as the Colts’ play-calling head coach while Sirianni continues in his role as offensive co-ordinator.
“Philip is one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the NFL and we are fortunate to add an experienced player of his calibre to our organization,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said in a statement. “His familiarity with our coaching staff and offensive system, in addition to his experience, were attractive qualities during our evaluation process. Philip is a fierce competitor and his veteran leadership will be crucial in the continued development of our young roster.”
They’re hoping Rivers leads them back to the playoffs.
First, he must beat out incumbent stater Jacoby Brissett, who struggled during the second half last season after injuring his left knee. Brissett, like Rivers, is a North Carolina State alum, but the two have not spoken yet this week, Rivers said.
But for now, with a challenging off-season looming, Rivers wants to keep the goals simple: Meeting his new teammates, learning the offence and being ready to go whenever football resumes.
“Building a friendship, building a relationship is huge and that’s really my favourite part of this game, just being a great teammate,” he said. “I love being a teammate, I want to be one of the guys and I want them to know that.”
The Indianapolis Colts also released starting cornerback Pierre Desir on Saturday, just one year signing a three-year contract worth $22.5 million. he move saves the Colts nearly $7 million in salary cap space.
Desir made 29 starts in three seasons with Indy and had 161 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Indy claimed Desir off waivers from Seattle in 2017 and was a fourth-round draft pick by Cleveland in 2014.
Kenyan Drake staying with Cardinals
Running back Kenyan Drake’s agency says he will sign his one-year, $8.5 million tender to stay with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals placed the transition tag on Drake earlier this week, which meant the player could negotiate a deal elsewhere but Arizona had the right to match the offer. Drake’s agency, SportsTrust Advisors, announced on Saturday that he would sign.
The 26-year-old Drake came to the Cardinals in a mid-season trade from the Miami Dolphins. He was productive in eight games, running for 643 yards and eight touchdowns, including a four-touchdown game against the Cleveland Browns in Week 15. He also caught 28 passes for 171 yards.
Drake is expected to be the Cardinals’ premier back next season after they traded David Johnson to the Houston Texans for receiver DeAndre Hopkins earlier this week. Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said several times during last season that Drake’s versatility made him an ideal fit for his team’s offence.
Arizona has had a productive start to free agency. In addition to trading for Hopkins and keeping Drake, the Cardinals bolstered their defence by adding lineman Jordan Phillips and linebackers Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell.
Raiders add Nelson Agholor
The Las Vegas Raiders have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent Nelson Agholor to add a veteran receiver on offence.
A person familiar with the move said the sides reached the deal Saturday. The person also said the Raiders agreed to a one-year deal to keep backup running back Rod Smith. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contracts can’t be signed until the players pass physicals.
Agholor spent the past five seasons in Philadelphia after being drafted 20th overall in 2015. He had 62 catches for 768 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 for the Eagles, adding nine catches for 84 yards in a Super Bowl win over New England that season.
He followed that up with 64 catches for 736 yards in 2018 before struggling last season while dealing with a knee injury. He finished with 39 catches for 363 yards, averaging just 9.3 yards per catch. He also had four dropped passes, according to SportRadar.
Agholor gives the Raiders another option at receiver alongside deep threat Tyrell Williams and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. The Raiders also could draft a receiver with one of their two first-round picks.
Offensive lineman Eric Kush also confirmed that he agreed to a deal with the Raiders, and tight end Nick O’Leary’s agency, Sports Trust Advisors, said its client has a deal in place with the team.
O’Leary has played for Buffalo, Miami and Jacksonville over his five-year career, making 53 catches for 668 yards and four TDs.
He’s the second tight end to agree to a deal with Las Vegas, following veteran Jason Witten. The Raiders already have Darren Waller, Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier as tight ends under contract who played extensively last season.