Soon-to-be-former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers plans to play up to two more years. Before he can play two more years, he needs to play one more year. Before he can play one more year, he needs to find someone who will give him a job.
And he presumably wants more than just a job as in a roster spot. He presumably wants to be given a starting job, with a contract that makes it clear that he won’t be competing with an incumbent or a backup or another free agent or a draft pick. So who will hand Rivers a clear-cut, full-season starting job in 2020?
There aren’t many obvious destinations. Peter King and I drafted the ideal landing spots for Rivers in 2020, but there’s currently no team that seems to be poised to make Rivers the guy for 2020, in the way that, for example, Washington made Alex Smith the guy post-Chiefs, the Broncos made Peyton Manning the guy post-Colts, the Jets made Brett Favre the guy post-Packers, and the Vikings made Brett Favre the guy post-Jets.
It will take a contract that pays out at least $25 million in 2020 to convince anyone that Rivers will be the Week One through Week 17 starter, barring injury or abject disaster. Anything less than that opens the door for Rivers to holding a place until, for example, a first-round pick is ready to go.
So what happens if there’s no team that anoints Rivers the unquestioned starter? Would he take what he could get? Maybe a truly open competition? Maybe a Ryan Tannehill-type situation where he’d arrive as the backup but eventually take over for a strug-uh-ling starter?
Franchise quarterbacks rarely accept anything other than starting jobs. It could be that, once free agency opens, there won’t be an obvious starting job for Rivers. It could be that his best bet will be to wait, until after free agency or after the draft or until a starter potentially gets injured.
Regardless, the news that the Chargers are moving on from Rivers is just the beginning. The next question is whether someone will invite Rivers to move in, after a 23-touchdown, 20-interception final season in L.A. At this point, there’s no guarantee that it will happen.