NFL Betting: Which Team Will Land Philip Rivers?
After starting every Chargers regular season game since the beginning of the 2006 season, Philip Rivers is leaving the Bolts. The team and Rivers announced he will not be with the Chargers when they move into their shiny new stadium in 2020.
After 224 regular season starts, 59,271 passing yards and 397 touchdown passes, an era has come to an end. But this is not the end of the NFL road for Rivers, who wants to keep playing into 2020.
FanDuel Sportsbook has released odds on who they think Rivers next team might be, giving you a chance to make a unique free-agency bet. (You can do the same for Tom Brady.) Let's take a look at some of the betting options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, +170
This landing spot just seems to make the most sense. Rivers has recently moved his family to Florida. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, Bruce Arians, loves quarterbacks who are not afraid to go aerial. They also have two quality wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The Bucs are coming off a season in which their quarterback led the NFL in passing yards but also interceptions.
Seems like a slam dunk win for both sides, right?
Well, it would in an ideal world, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Rivers' arm strength seemed to desert him at times during the end of the 2019 campaign, so his fit in a vertical offense might be a questionable one. There is also the issue of Rivers' own tendencies toward turning the ball over. Jameis Winston became the first player in NFL history to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions last season, but Rivers tossed 20 picks of his own for the Chargers.
There does appear to be legitimate interest from the team in bringing Rivers onboard. But the team has not yet publicly announced that they are
officially ready to end the Winston era. As such, this remains a case of possible but not likely.
Indianapolis Colts (+200)
The Indianapolis Colts seemed to be handling the shocking loss of Andrew Luck remarkably well early on in the 2019 campaign. With Jacoby Brissett at the helm, the team was 5-2 after seven games. But once Brissett suffered an MCL injury in Week 9, things went downhill for the Colts.
Prior to his injury, Brissett had been averaging a robust 0.20 Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. Upon his return, this mark dropped to -0.06 over the remainder of the season as the Colts went 2-5 down the stretch.
There is an obvious connection to Rivers here, given that Colts coach Frank Reich was Rivers' quarterback coach in 2013 when Rivers won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Reich was also the Chargers' offensive coordinator between 2014 and 2015. The Colts need to bolster their pass-catching corps behind T.Y. Hilton, but they have top-notch offensive line as well as a solid running game. The strong front five might really appeal to Rivers as he was sacked 66 times over the last two seasons and absorbed a further 102 quarterback hits.
The Colts have Brissett under contract for the 2020 season, and he will earn a $7 million roster bonus on March 3rd. But in a topsy turvy AFC South, the Colts may feel the addition of Rivers gives them a fighting chance of overcoming the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans in 2020.
Las Vegas Raiders (+1000)
Las Vegas Raiders -- it’s going to feel weird writing and saying that for a long time, isn’t it? -- coach Jon Gruden loves quarterbacks, especially quarterbacks who are aggressive.
Derek Carr was an efficient facilitator of Gruden’s offense in 2019, completing 70.4% of his pass attempts on his way to a second consecutive 4,000-yard season. Per our metrics, Carr was also fourth in terms of Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back among the 20 quarterbacks with at least 500 drop backs. But a risk-taking maverick Carr is not. He attempted just 47 deep passes in 2019, according to PlayerProfiler -- which was just the 25th-most among all quarterbacks. Rivers, meanwhile, chucked it deep the sixth-most times (75 total).
The Raiders have an above-average offensive line, a solid young running back (Josh Jacobs) and a playmaking tight end (Darren Waller). These are all things that could appeal to Rivers. For now, they also have Tyrell Williams, a wideout with a pre-existing relationship with Rivers. The veteran signal caller averaged 8.22 adjusted yards per attempt on the 256 targets he sent Williams way for the Chargers between 2015 and 2018.
Rivers has enjoyed games against the Raiders in the past. He owns an 18-10 record against them, with 7,103 passing yards and 47 touchdowns. The location would seem to be something of a stumbling block, given Rivers' recent move to Florida. But being given the chance to be the face of a franchise in a new town might appeal to Rivers. This scenario doesn’t strike me as a total no-hoper.
New England Patriots (+3400)
The New England Patriots are one of the few teams who would be getting younger at quarterback if they signed Rivers. But they have questions surrounding the future of their relationship with Tom Brady, and if a deal cannot be arranged to the liking of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Brady, then the team may need a replacement quarterback.
Should Brady walk, the Patriots might prefer to have a veteran come in to learn their famously complicated offense rather than a youngster -- even one like Jarrett Stidham, who has been in the system for a year already. Rivers would certainly fit the bill, but there are a whole host of reasons why this one is a long shot.
Ending the Brady era to sign Rivers would be a pretty short-term solution and not one that seems to ring true to what Belichick has done over his time in charge. Plus, let’s be honest here -- it is pretty unlikely that Tom Brady is playing for anyone else but the Patriots in 2020. FanDuel Sportsbook has Brady at -400 to return to New England -- making it far and away the favorite, per their odds.
If Rivers wants to continue playing, it likely won’t be in New England -- unless he’s with the visiting team.
All signs right now point to Rivers wanting to continue playing in 2020, but retirement might have some appeal as we get closer to free agency.
After all, Rivers has played 224 consecutive games in the regular season, absorbing a whopping 441 sacks whilst playing through a plethora of injuries. These include a torn ACL that didn’t keep him from playing in the AFC Championship Game in 2008.
But there is the chance -- however unlikely it may seem and however contrary to his reported current plans -- that the right situation just does not materialize for Rivers. A team with a cadre of offensive weapons, with an offensive line to protect him and a coach to take a chance on him may not exist. Rivers has been an excellent player for much of his NFL career, and the thought of seeing him play out the string on a woeful team behind a turnstile offensive line as he tosses interception after interception is almost too depressing to contemplate.
I don’t think Rivers will retire this offseason, but this option should not be discounted entirely, especially with the line at +600, making it the third-most likely going by the odds. Maybe he decides it is time to spend more time with his famously large family.