Philip Rivers — who had served as the Los Angeles Chargers‘ starting quarterback for the past 14 years — will enter the free agent market knowing one thing for certain — he’ll be looking for a new home. The Chargers announced earlier in the week that the franchise and Rivers are going in separate directions for the 2020 season.
According to Matt Cassel — who started at quarterback for the Patriots during the 2008 season and played for the team from 2005 until 2008 — Rivers represents an “intriguing” option for New England if Brady opts to sign with another team.
Via NBC Sports Boston:
That’s why Philip Rivers is an intriguing guy, because I still believe he can play at a high level.
He’s obviously an outstanding leader and a veteran. But he’s also been in a Los Angeles Chargers system with Ken Whisenhunt, who runs a very similar offensive scheme as New England with similar language. So, there’s some carryover there.
You’re going to pay for Rivers. But if you’re looking for a guy to fill a one- to two-year bridge gap, you know what you’re getting with him. You know he’s a competitor. He can still play and is a great leader on the field.
Why the Patriots May Need a Veteran Quarterback
The Patriots also have Jarrett Stidham returning for his second season next year. While he may understand the system with a year under his belt, he still has very little playing experience.
During Cassel’s article, he makes sure to stress the traits you need to have in order to be the Patriots’ starting quarterback. Outside of being able to make plays, you need to know how to make pre-snap adjustments and be able to make the proper protection calls.
Simply put, that is something that Stidham will likely struggle with early on. It’s not something that should be a problem for Rivers.
What Rivers Brings to the Table
Rivers is a 16-year veteran who has not missed a start since he became a starter during the 2006 season. In fact, he is the active leader for consecutive games started by a quarterback with 235 consecutive starts. That is the second-best record for a quarterback in NFL history — behind Brett Favre‘s 321 consecutive starts.
In other words, the 38-year-old Rivers is an experienced field general who knows all about pre-snap adjustments.
While Rivers didn’t exactly light up the field last season with his production — he threw 20 interceptions, the third-most total in the NFL — he was a Pro Bowler during the 2018 season. In fact, he led the Chargers to a Divisional Round appearance during that season.
Obviously, Rivers isn’t the only veteran quarterback on the free agent market. Names such as Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Tannehill will all be free agents, which means New England could have their pick of the litter.
But no free agent quarterback — with the exception of Brady, of course — is as accomplished as Rivers is.
We’re talking about a guy who is an eight-time Pro Bowler, a former Comeback Player of the Year and a veteran who has led the league in every major statistical passing category at some point during his career — passing yards, touchdowns, passer rating and completion percentage.
If the Patriots are forced to move on from Brady, Cassel may be right — Rivers really may be an “intriguing” fit for New England.