There are a lot of quarterback questions as NFL free agency begins and the final preparations for the NFL Draft take place. There is a good chance that some legacy signal callers will be in different places. We’ve already taken a look at the Tom Brady free agency and how the New England Patriots might have a new Week 1 starter for the first time since 2016 when Brady was injured. It could be the first time Brady does not appear in a game for the Patriots since 1999.
While a reunion may be in store for Brady and the Pats, that will not be the case with the Los Angeles Chargers and Philip Rivers. Rivers has started every regular season game for the Chargers since the start of the 2006 season. He will not start Week 1 for the Chargers.
There aren’t a whole lot of suitors for a 38-year-old quarterback with an iffy skill set that has the mobility of an Easter Island statue, but he seems to think that something is still left in the tank and it seems like there are NFL teams out there that are going to be interested and invested.
Here are the odds for the team that Philip Rivers will be on in Week 1 of the 2020 season per BetOnline Sportsbook:
Indianapolis Colts -125
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +300
Las Vegas Raiders +600
Washington Redskins +800
Cleveland Browns +1200
Miami Dolphins +1200
Carolina Panthers +1600
Jacksonville Jaguars +1600
Chicago Bears +2000
New England Patriots +2500
Dallas Cowboys +3300
The Colts are the favorites, even though they have a lot of different options, including a reunion with Jacoby Brissett, free agent Teddy Bridgewater, or several other trade options. The interesting thing is that BetOnline has the Colts’ Week 1 starter as Brissett at -140, so is it possible that Rivers would sign with the Colts and then lose the quarterback battle to Brissett? Wouldn’t Rivers go somewhere he knows he can start?
The Colts could prioritize Rivers over Brissett, but that seems crazy. Brissett was thrust into a really challenging situation with the Colts last season and played really well all things considered. He had an 18/6 TD/INT ratio and completed just under 61% of his passes. Given that he missed a game due to injury and had to handle the Andrew Luck retirement in training camp, Indianapolis should want him back rather than the aging Rivers.
If Rivers doesn’t end up with the Colts, where does he end up? If the Buccaneers come up on the short end of the tepid Tom Brady sweepstakes, they become a viable landing spot, but they may opt to focus on youth or a trade. Is it possible that Rivers just ends up being a backup somewhere?
Let’s be honest, after watching Rivers last season, he would not be an upgrade for most teams.
That brings our focus back to the Chargers. What direction will they go? It seems clear that a Rivers reunion won’t happen, so they are going to have a new starting quarterback.
Who will that be? Let’s check in on the BetOnline odds:
Tyrod Taylor +150
Justin Herbert +400
Teddy Bridgewater +600
Andy Dalton +700
Tom Brady +700
Tua Tagovailoa +700
Jameis Winston +1200
Marcus Mariota +1200
Jordan Love +1600
Jake Fromm +1800
Colin Kaepernick +10000
There are some extremely interesting names on this list. Obviously Andy Dalton will be available on or before April 23 with the Bengals holding the #1 overall pick to take Joe Burrow.
Tyrod Taylor is the favorite because he is already in Los Angeles, having served as the backup to Rivers last season. Taylor wouldn’t be a bad choice, as a guy with a fairly high floor, but Taylor has no ceiling. He is not going to be likely to take the Chargers to the playoffs.
Doesn’t it seem like a high-risk, high-reward gamble is a better idea? Why not Jameis Winston? Winston can make a ton of throws, but you have to live with the plethora of picks that he throws. Keep in mind that the Buccaneers almost never had a running game to help Winston out. The Chargers have a decent running game and also backs that are solid in the passing game. That just could be a much better environment and opportunity for Winston.
Is it fair to say that Dalton is Rivers age-progressed six years backwards? That’s as lateral of a move as you can get. If the Chargers do draft Tua, is he ready in Week 1? Probably not. There is a lot of, ahem, love for Jordan Love in the draft process. Would the Chargers be swayed enough to go with him? Even if they did, wouldn’t Taylor make sense as a stopgap so a guy that played his college ball at Utah State could have some time to learn the league and an NFL playbook?
Marcus Mariota feels like a backup and isn’t really an upgrade to Taylor. Brady might be an upgrade, but to this point, the only western destination we’ve really heard about is Las Vegas.
The Chargers would probably need to trade up in order to take Justin Herbert. They could. Some mock drafts actually like them to trade up for Tua Tagovailoa, which would also open up the Herbert possibility. If that’s the case, wouldn’t Taylor just be a stopgap filler there, too?
To me, it looks like there are only two choices: Tyrod Taylor and Jameis Winston. If the Buccaneers don’t want to gamble with a first-round pick, they can pick up Winston and see what happens in what should be a better system and fit for him. If they do want to use a first-round pick, Taylor does seem like the logical starter. The 12/1 shot is really appealing on Winston for some pizza money, but Taylor at +150 is likely the way that this plays out.