Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have led the tributes to Philip Rivers after the Indianapolis Colts quarterback announced his NFL retirement.

Rivers, 39, spent the first 16 years of his career with the Chargers, initially in San Diego and later in Los Angeles, before joining the Colts for the 2020 season.

He led the Colts back to the playoffs with an 11-5 record and the team narrowly lost to the Buffalo Bills in the Wildcard Round in what proved to be his final game.

Rivers finishes his 17-year career ranked fifth all-time for both passing yards (63,440) and touchdown passes (421).

While Manning and Roethlisberger – the two other prominent quarterbacks drafted in 2004 – won two Super Bowls apiece, Rivers never made it to the big game.

But they insist it does not detract from his magnificent accomplishments.

Former New York Giants QB Manning wrote on Twitter: "Congrats to Philip on an outstanding career. 

"It was fun to watch my fellow Qb from 2004 draft class compete these past 17 years. Enjoy the next phase."

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Roethlisberger, whose own future is uncertain, added: "Philip, what a career! 

"An amazing competitor, winner and family man. It has been fun to compete against you and watch you do your thing for so many years. 

"I know countless kids have been inspired by you and will benefit from your coaching and football knowledge in the future. God bless!"

Colts head coach Frank Reich had previously said he believed Rivers had more left in the tank.

"Philip is one of the fiercest competitors and most loyal teammates that our game has ever seen," he said after Rivers' announcement. 

"His unwavering conviction as a leader and elite intelligence contributed to his Hall of Fame football career. 

"Philip made our game better and the National Football League was fortunate to have him.

"I wish Philip, Tiffany and the entire Rivers family the best and thank them for their contributions to our organization and community. 

"I am anxious to see Philip trade his helmet for the headset and do what he's always done best – bring his passion to the game of football and make others better."

Two of Rivers' prominent former Chargers pass catchers, Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry, were also quick to send him their gratitude on social media.

Allen wrote: "Husband, Father, Friend, Role Model, Professional, Warrior, Leader!

"Glad that I was blessed to be apart of your career. Showed up everyday like it was your last and never took any moment for granted!"

While Henry added: "Congrats stud. Insane career. 

"Thankful for everything you have done for me in my career. You were a true inspiration. Enjoy retirement stud!"

Houston Texans icon JJ Watt called Rivers "one of the smartest I’ve ever played against and a hell of a competitor".

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, said Rivers' career was worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame, labelling him "an example to follow as a QB, a team leader, a Dad, and a man of faith".

Veteran Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers has announced his retirement after 17 seasons in the NFL.

Rivers spent the first 16 years with the Chargers, initially in San Diego and later in Los Angeles, before joining the Colts for the 2021 season.

During his solitary campaign in Indianapolis, Rivers led the team back to the playoffs with an 11-5 record, throwing for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdown passes.

He finishes his career ranked fifth overall for completed yards at 63,440 and touchdown passes with 421.

The 39-year-old played in 244 NFL games in total including 240 straight starts, which remains the second-longest streak for a quarterback behind the legendary Brett Favre (297).

Announcing his decision to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Rivers said: "It's just time. It's just right.

"It [his career] was awesome. A young kid from northern Alabama who grew up wanting to play pro ball. I got to do it.

"This is the first year I felt like the ending was real. We talked about it other years, but we knew we weren't doing it. This year felt different. It just seemed right."

Rivers is now set to embark on a new chapter in his life in Alabama, where he is to become the head football coach at St. Michael High in Fairhope.

"I can sit here and say, 'I can still throw it. I love to play.' But that's always going to be there. I'm excited to go coach high school football," he added.

"What has helped me come to this [decision] is the growing desire to coach high school football. That's what I've always wanted to do. It's been growing. I can't wait."

Patrick Mahomes produced when it mattered most to help the Kansas City Chiefs overcome the Las Vegas Raiders 35-31 in the NFL.

Mahomes found Travis Kelce with 28 seconds remaining as Super Bowl champions the Chiefs prevailed against the Raiders in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts completed a memorable comeback against the Green Bay Packers 34-31 following overtime, while Justin Herbert celebrated a career day for the Los Angeles Chargers.

 

MAHOMES PUTS ON A SHOW

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Mahomes was faced with a 31-28 deficit inside the final two minutes after Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw a touchdown pass to Jason Witten.

Chiefs star Mahomes stepped up to the plate, leading a seven-play, 75-yard drive in 75 seconds with a 22-yard throw to Kelce as Kansas City (9-1) reigned supreme at the death.

Mahomes finished 34 of 45 for 348 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while he rushed for 16 yards on four carries.

Carr – who joined Russell Wilson as the only players in NFL history with 25,000 passing yards and fewer than 70 interceptions in their first seven seasons – was 23-of-31 passing for 275 yards, three TDs and an interception.

COLTS EDGE RODGERS AND PACKERS

It was not pretty but the Colts got the better of the Packers in Week 11.

Rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship nailed a 39-yard field goal to lift the Colts – who scored 20 of the final 23 points – past the Packers in OT, having trailed 28-14 at half-time.

Rodgers led the Packers (7-3) down the field in less than 90 seconds to level the game and force overtime in Indianapolis, where AFC South leaders the Colts (7-3) stayed ahead of the Tennessee Titans.

The result marked Philip Rivers' 13th career start in which his team rallied from 14-plus points down to win, per Stats Perform. It is the second-most 14-plus point comeback wins by a QB in NFL history, only behind Peyton Manning (16).

Rivers was 24 of 36 passing for 288 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while Packers counterpart Rodgers finished 27 of 38 for 311 yards, three TDs and an interception.

 

HERBETS SETS ROOKIE MARK

Chargers quarterback Herbert enjoyed a memorable outing as his team held off the beleaguered Jets 34-28.

Herbert – who was 37 of 49 for 366 yards and three touchdowns – became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 350-plus yards while completing at least 75 per cent of his passes in a game, according to Stats Perform.

He also recorded his fifth game of three-plus touchdown passes this season – the most by a rookie in a season in the Super Bowl era, per NFL Research, as the Chargers condemned the Jets to a 0-10 record.

Herbert connected with Keenan Allen, who set a single-game Chargers record with his 16th reception in the fourth quarter, becoming the first of four wide receivers in the Super Bowl era with two career 15-plus reception games.

TUA BENCHED AS DOLPHINS LOSE

Tua Tagovailoa was replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter of the team's 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos.

The Dolphins trailed 20-10 when Tagovailoa was benched, though Miami head coach Brian Flores said the rookie quarterback remains starter.

Tagovailoa – promoted following Week 7 – went 11-of-20 passing for 83 yards and a touchdown

"Tua wasn't injured. We just felt like it was the best move at that point of the game – we had to get in two-minute mode and we felt like [Fitzpatrick] gave us the best chance to win the game and we had an opportunity at the end to tie it," Flores said.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys snapped a four-game skid by topping the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 to move back into the NFC East race.

Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton and tight end Dalton Schultz connected for a touchdown in the win, marking the first TD pass in NFL history in which the passer's last name is an exact match with the receiver's first name, according to NFL Research.

 

Week 11 scores:

Tennessee Titans 30-24 Baltimore Ravens (OT)
Carolina Panthers 20-0 Detroit Lions
Cleveland Browns 22-17 Philadelphia Eagles
Houston Texans 27-20 New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers 27-3 Jacksonville Jaguars
New Orleans Saints 24-9 Atlanta Falcons
Washington Football Team 20-9 Cincinnati Bengals
Denver Broncos 20-13 Miami Dolphins
Los Angeles Chargers 34-28 New York Jets
Indianapolis Colts 34-31 Green Bay Packers (OT)
Dallas Cowboys 31-28 Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs 35-31 Las Vegas Raiders

Philip Rivers revelled in a "special" night after surpassing Dan Marino, whose poster once adorned his wall, to claim fifth place for all-time passing yards in the NFL.

The Indianapolis Colts quarterback went 29 of 39 for 308 yards and a touchdown, overtaking Marino (61,361 yards) as the Tennessee Titans were beaten 34-17.

The result sent the Colts top the AFC South and it was a particularly momentous outing for Rivers, who underlined just how much he looked up to Hall of Famer Marino.

"It's special, it's special," Rivers said. "Those guys up there on that list, I don't know that I'm in their category, and that's okay, but Dan Marino was on my wall.

"He was a poster on my wall as a young boy in Decatur and Athens, Alabama, so it's special.

"[I'm] thankful that I've been able to play long enough, thankful that I've been healthy enough to play over 230 in a row now, and watching Dan Marino, meeting Dan Marino at the Senior Bowl, playing against his teams, it's all special.

"It's all just special and [I'm] thankful that here, at 38, I'm still getting out here and competing and playing the game I love."

Rivers only needed three yards to climb above Marino and achieved the feat with his first pass of the game, connecting with Jonathan Taylor for 11 yards.

Colts coach Frank Reich lauded Rivers' composure after revealing a decision had been taken to go with a no-huddle approach the day before the game.

"Philip's just, he's in control," he said. "That puts him in the driver's seat, allows him to see everything and get us in the right play when he needs to, which he did with regularity tonight.

"He's just really good in that mode and he was accurate. Good decisions, good checks in the run game, good situational football. So, he was on point tonight, for sure."

Odell Beckham Jr. believes the way the Cleveland Browns played to win their last three games proves their 3-1 record is "no fluke" going into a huge test against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Browns are seeking their first 4-1 start since 1994 when they host the Colts, who have the NFL's best defense through four weeks, on Sunday.

An astonishing 49-38 win at the Dallas Cowboys last week, where Beckham had three total touchdowns, saw the team score their most points in a game since 2007.

In an impressive response since losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, they have had 34 or more points against the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington and Dallas, their best scoring streak since 1968.

IS BECKHAM BACK TO HIS BEST?

As Beckham struggled with a core muscle injury in 2019, he largely failed to meet high expectations in his first year after being traded from the New York Giants, finishing with 1,035 receiving yards.

The Cowboys win saw him produce his best display yet in a Browns jersey. 

"You look at the games that we won, and it was not like it was a fluke," Beckham told reporters about the Browns' start to 2020.

"I’ve just been waiting," he added of his breakout game against Dallas, where he had 81 yards through the air and 73 on the ground.

"I know what I can do. I know what I am capable of. Just trying to find ways to keep this train rolling. This is probably one of the best spots I have been in.

"I had to really strain heavy last year - I did not want to run any faster than I needed to. I am definitely stronger, faster this year than I was last year. I am just all around healthier."

The Colts represent stiff opposition. They also struggled in a poor opener, losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars, only to respond with wins over the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and Chicago Bears to also sit 3-1.

With star running back Nick Chubb out injured, Jarvis Landry believes his close friend and team-mate Beckham will have to produce more fireworks, after his spectacular 50-yard touchdown run on a reverse settled the game with Dallas.

"Greatness - listen, I have not seen plays like that in the NFL in a long time," said fellow wide receiver Landry, who had earlier thrown a TD pass to Beckham.

"Only special guys make those type of plays. He is very special. That is something that we are going to continue to need out of him for the rest of the season.

"Last year, he was dealing with a major injury that obviously he had to have surgery and coming into a new system, a new team and all of these things, I think that that weighs on anybody."

HISTORIC NUMBERS FOR COLTS DEFENSE

The Colts defense ranks first in the NFL for points allowed per game (14), yards per game (236.3) and yards per play (4.4).

The 945 total yards allowed is the best Colts figure through the first quarter of a season since 1971, per Stats Perform data.

They have also had the Browns' number over recent years, winning eight of the last nine meetings and five straight in Cleveland. However, each of the last 10 games have been decided by eight or fewer points.

For the Browns, defensive end Myles Garrett has had a spectacular start to 2020 and his 31 pressures are second to only to the Bears' Khalil Mack.

That form has helped the Browns generate turnovers – they have forced 10 fumbles and recovered six of them, the first team to have had such a streak since the 2015 Detroit Lions.

But they have also allowed as many touchdowns as their offense has scored (16) and given up 63 passing plays of 10 or more yards, a record which is second-worst in the league (the Seattle Seahawks have allowed 74).

MILESTONE FOR RIVERS

Pressure may be harder to come by this week, as Colts QB Philip Rivers has only been sacked three times behind quality offensive line play he was not used to with the Los Angeles (formerly San Diego) Chargers.

Rivers will almost certainly become the fifth player in history to reach 5,000 career pass completions, following in the footsteps of an elite group – Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. He goes into the game with 4,996 to his name.

Colts coach Frank Reich has been thrilled with Rivers, even though the Colts' run game and stellar defense meant he only had to throw for 190 yards in last week's win over the Bears.

Reich said: "He made some huge plays on third down trusting his receivers, the throw to T.Y. Hilton, the throw to Marcus [Johnson] down the field - we get the pass interference.

"We had the other one that we missed to T.Y. down there. I know Philip said something about that missed throw. There was a little collision down the field that kind of precipitated that."

And Hilton is not worried about having just 13 catches (162 yards, 22 targets) through four games, so long as the Colts keep winning.

He said: "I have got no problem with what’s going on - we are winning and I am having fun.

"I can only control what I can control and when the ball comes my way, I'll be ready. Whatever my team needs, I'm always there to make a play."

New Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers admitted he was "aggravated" by criticism of his performances for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019.

Rivers, 38, signed a one-year deal with the Colts in March after entering free agency when he left the Chargers, where he had started every game since 2005.

The eight-time Pro Bowler is now determined to prove he can still cut it the coming season, having revealed he was well aware of suggestions he was past his best last year.

Rivers, who threw for 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, acknowledged he made "some very costly mistakes" but insisted there was also "so much good" as the Chargers finished with a 5-11 record.

"At times what may have aggravated me a little bit last year was [critics saying] that I couldn't play anymore," the veteran told reporters.

"When you heard that, it bothered me, because I wanted to go, 'Shoot, let's go turn on the tape and watch all the good things.'

"There were some bad plays, certainly some throws I want back and certainly some very costly mistakes. I own up to all those.

"There was so much good and I had some throws last year that were probably as good as I've had my whole career.

"I knew, so I didn't feel like I had to sell that to anyone. But at the same time, it did aggravate you little bit.

"I think it's okay to be aware [of criticism]. I'm one of those guys that likes to be aware."

Philip Rivers signed a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts two months ago and has announced he already has a job lined up after he retires. 

Colts coach Frank Reich, however, believes Rivers will still be the team’s quarterback after the 2020 season. 

"I really believe it's Philip's intent to play multiple years," Reich said on a Monday conference call. "I personally believe he is more than capable of multiple years. But as far as how the actual contract gets worked out, it's the NFL, so we keep things realistic there. But I'm very optimistic it'll be a multi-year thing." 

Reich’s comments come after it was announced on May 8 that the 38-year-old Rivers would coach St Michael Catholic High School in Alabama after his retirement. 

Rivers, who spent his first 16 NFL seasons with the Chargers, contemplated retirement before agreeing to a one-year, $25 million deal with the Colts following a disappointing 2019. 

"It was a normal contract negotiation. There was push and pull on each side, a multi-year deal and this deal and trying to get numbers and everything to balance out right, and it finally just came down to what it was," Reich said.

"But I think the spirit of it was, 'Hey, we're in this together,' and as long as Philip wants to play, he wants to be here."

An eight-time Pro Bowler, Rivers, whose 59,271 passing yards and 397 passing touchdowns both rank sixth in NFL history, joins an Indianapolis team that went 7-9 in 2019 and has missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.  

Philip Rivers is not quite done playing yet, but the longtime NFL quarterback does have a job lined up for when he decides to hang up his cleats.  
 
St. Michael Catholic High School announced on Friday that Rivers will become its head football coach following his retirement from the NFL.

The decision to coach the school in Fairhope, Alabama, is a natural career move for Rivers, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts in March after spending his first 16 NFL seasons with the Chargers. 

His father, Steve, was a successful high school coach in Alabama for 25 years and mentored his son during the younger Rivers' days as a star quarterback for Decatur High School. 
 
"It's a special day for me and my family," said Rivers at a press conference announcing his hiring. 

"I had two childhood dreams. One is to play in the NFL, and now I'm going into my 17th season. The other was to be a high school football coach as my dad was. How blessed am I to be able to live those out?" 
 
Rivers, an eight-time Pro Bowler whose 59,271 passing yards and 397 passing touchdowns both rank sixth in NFL history, had contemplated retirement before agreeing to a one-year, $25 million deal with the Colts.

The 38-year-old is yet to make a firm decision on his plans beyond this season and has not ruled out extending his playing career beyond 2020. 
 
"I think it is a one-year-at-a-time deal," he said. "I've expressed publicly and the Colts have too they hope it's more than one year. But we take it one year at a time. 
 
"I love playing. When that time does end, you will get the same passion and work ethic at this school and community that I've poured into my career."

Philip Rivers' alarming dip in form during the 2019 season means his signing is no guarantee of success for the Indianapolis Colts, says Brian Baldinger.

The 38-year-old left the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency after 16 seasons with the franchise, agreeing a one-year, $25million contract at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Indianapolis hope eight-time Pro Bowler Rivers can provide them with a significant quarterback upgrade on last year's starter, Jacoby Brissett.

But former Colts offensive lineman Baldinger, now an analyst for NFL Network, believes the previous campaign, when Rivers threw for 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, is a cause for concern.

The Chargers missed the playoffs and went 5-11, just one year after Rivers had 32 TDs and 12 INTs as part of a 12-4 campaign in 2018.

Baldinger told Stats Perform: "He didn't play well last year, and it wasn’t because the offensive line was terrible, or because the defense started with Derwin James getting injured in preseason and all that.

"All that stuff is true, but they won 12 games the year before and a large part of that was because Philip Rivers was really good late in games. 

"Late against Kansas City, late against the Pittsburgh Steelers, late against the Baltimore Ravens in a playoff win, all this stuff was true. 

"But he didn't play well late in games last year, which is where your quarterback has got to elevate your team, he has got to put you on their shoulders. 

"You look at losses last year in Detroit, losses to the Oakland Raiders, losses to the Kansas City Chiefs, all late in games with interceptions by Philip Rivers. They were not good decisions.

"Is that just an outline of Philip Rivers, is that who he is? Because he didn't look good when you have to be good late in games. 

"I don't know what you're going to get, are you going to get 2018 Philip Rivers or 2019 Philip Rivers? I don't know yet and I don't think anybody knows."

With the frenzy of free agency in the rear-view mirror, the attention of the 32 NFL franchises is now primarily focused on the 2020 draft.

Most of the big names on the open market have found a new home, though there are still a couple of high-profile free agents who could impact teams' offseason plans.

The draft has already had to be drastically altered by the coronavirus outbreak. Initially slated to take place in Las Vegas with prospects riding boats to a stage on the Bellagio fountains, the draft is now set to be a low-key event closed to the public.

But how will what happened in free agency alter how teams approach their draft selections? Here we look at the biggest dominoes to fall in free agency and how they will likely impact the draft.


The DeForest Buckner trade

One of the most surprising moves of the free agency was the San Francisco 49ers deciding to pay Arik Armstead, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, over fellow defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, who was promptly traded to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th overall pick.

All-Pro Buckner has been a more consistent performer than Armstead and his departure is a blow to a 49ers defensive line that was the best in the NFL last season.

Armstead will earn an average of $17million a year with the 49ers while Buckner's contract is worth $21m a year.

It is a move that made financial sense for a Niners team in need of salary cap space, but the return they received from Indianapolis is what provokes the most intrigue.

The Niners now have two picks in the first round (13 and 31) and, with the former, they are well placed to land one of Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III, considered the top three wide receivers in the draft.

San Francisco made it to the Super Bowl without a true number one receiver. The prospect of the 49ers adding one to Kyle Shanahan's explosive offense is mouth-watering.

Brady to the Bucs, Rivers to the Colts

The biggest domino in free agency took some time to fall, but it did so 12 days ago when Tom Brady signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady's arrival in Tampa Bay not only saw the Buccaneers move on from former first overall pick Jameis Winston, but it also took them out of the quarterback discussion in the draft.

With Brady under center, it is unlikely the Bucs will be focused on finding their quarterback of the future with the 14th overall pick.

Having traded their first-rounder for Buckner, the Colts - who had previously been regarded as potential quarterback suitors in the draft - signed Philip Rivers to a one-year deal following his Los Angeles Chargers exit.

The respective moves for Brady and Rivers indicate the Bucs and Colts are in win-now mode. The future at quarterback can wait for both of those franchises. If the Chargers, who select sixth overall, also decide to look to another position, it could mean a slide down the board for quarterbacks not named Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa.

As a result of the late-career changes of scenery for the two veterans, the likes of Justin Herbert and Jordan Love could face a long wait to learn where their pro careers will start.

Yannick Ngakoue receiving the franchise tag

The knock-on effects of this decision are still to be revealed, however, given Ngakoue's desire to move on to pastures new, the star edge rusher receiving the franchise tag appears destined to have a significant impact on how the draft plays out.

Ngakoue does not want to play under the tag and has made it clear he has no wish to sign a long-term deal with the Jaguars.

By slapping the tag on him, the Jaguars ensured they can at least get something in return for Ngakoue, rather than losing him for nothing in free agency.

Unsurprisingly for a player with 37.5 sacks in four seasons, Ngakoue is said to have drawn trade interest from several teams looking to acquire him and sign him to a long-term extension.

The starting point for negotiations for Ngakoue would likely be a first-round pick. If he is to be traded, either before or during the draft, it will likely be a deal that shakes up the opening round.

DOMINOES STILL TO FALL

Jadeveon Clowney

Durability concerns and a lack of sacks appear to have depressed the market for the 2014 first overall pick.

The Seattle Seahawks are seemingly keen to re-sign Clowney, having traded for him last offseason.

However, no agreement has been reached and, if Clowney - one of the most disruptive edge rushers in the league when at his best - signs elsewhere, that could drastically impact the draft plans of an NFC contender.

Cam Newton

Newton's slide from 2015 MVP to being released by the Carolina Panthers is one of the more dramatic falls from grace in recent NFL history.

The fact the Panthers ended up cutting Newton indicates he had little in the way of the trade market after two consecutive injury-hindered seasons.

However, when healthy Newton has proven himself a top-tier starting quarterback worthy of an opportunity with a new team.

If the Chargers, who currently appear comfortable going with Tyrod Taylor in the position, decide to give him that chance, it would take another team out of the quarterback discussion and end talk of them potentially trading up for Tagovailoa.

Heading into the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts had what was deemed to be a tricky choice to make.

Armed with the first overall pick, new team president Bill Polian had two quarterbacks to choose from: Peyton Manning – the son of a former NFL player who starred at the University of Tennessee – or Ryan Leaf, the big man with a strong arm who had decided to leave Washington State a year early to enter the league.

History, of course, tells us the Colts made the correct call.

Manning spent 14 seasons in Indianapolis, his hugely successful spell with the team including leading them to glory in Super Bowl XLI. His jersey number (18) was retired by the franchise, while there is a statue of him at the team's Lucas Oil Stadium.

The San Diego Chargers, meanwhile, claimed Leaf at two. Their marriage did not run so smoothly – or last too long (three seasons, to be precise). He played just 25 games in a career that also included a stop in Dallas, throwing 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions, and is regarded as one of – if not the – biggest draft busts.

But what if Leaf had gone first instead? Let's start at the beginning…

 

THE COLTS

Having the first pick was the ideal building block for Polian, who was always going to hand new head coach Jim Mora a rookie QB to work with.

Manning started from the outset with the Colts. There were early teething problems and he finished his debut season with a 3-13 record, throwing more interceptions (28) than touchdowns (26).

However, the chance to learn on the job aided his development. The Colts went on to make the playoffs in the next two seasons and while 2001 was not so successful, a 6-10 campaign led to the arrival of Tony Dungy as head coach and, well, the rest is history.

Whether Leaf would have developed in the same circumstances has to be considered doubtful with how his career panned out, but Indianapolis would have at least afforded him time in which to prove himself.

They also had two rather useful pieces to help, as a running back by the name of Marshall Faulk and a wide receiver called Marvin Harrison were already on the roster.

Had Leaf still flamed out in a similar timeframe with the Colts – it should be pointed out he missed his second season in San Diego through injury - they may well have used the 2001 draft to find a replacement. The Chargers did exactly that, using the 32nd pick on Drew Brees.

THE CHARGERS

Here is where an alternative NFL timeline gets seriously interesting.

Manning as a Charger may not have blossomed in time to keep head coach Kevin Gilbride in a job – he was fired midway through the 1998 season, his second at the helm – but he may well have been the key to keeping the team in San Diego.

Owner Dean Spanos moved the Chargers to Los Angeles after an unsuccessful attempt to get a new stadium built. A failure to secure tax-payer funding led to relocation in 2017.

Surely, though, the presence of Manning could have made a difference. On-field success - perhaps even a Super Bowl triumph like the one the Colts enjoyed - could have led to them getting the backing required to stay put.

Instead, L.A. is now home, though they have so far struggled in competition with the Rams to attract fans. There have even been rumours that the Chargers could move again soon, this time overseas to become the NFL's permanent residents in London.

And what of Brees? Manning's presence would have made picking another QB a waste of draft resources. In 2001, the team to next take a player at the position after the Chargers were the Cowboys, meaning Drew could well have gone on to become a star in Dallas instead.

THE 2004 DRAFT

Of course, there is another Manning whose career would have changed if you take a sliding doors approach to the '98 draft.

After life with Leaf failed to pan out, the Chargers had better luck with Brees before then moving on to Philip Rivers.

However, they selected Peyton's younger brother Eli with the first pick in 2004, rather than Rivers, even though the former Ole Miss quarterback never had any intention of playing for them.

Eli ended up in New York with the Giants in a trade that saw Rivers, who was drafted at four, head in the opposite direction. The next QB taken that year? Ben Roethlisberger, who went to the Pittsburgh Steelers at 11. The Buffalo Bills also used their first-round pick on the position, opting for J.P. Losman after moving up to 22.

Yet had Peyton's place been in San Diego, several notable signal callers selected early in 2004 could have ended up in different locations to begin their pro careers.

Philip Rivers considered retirement but is confident he can still play at a high level after signing a one-year deal to join the Indianapolis Colts.

Quarterback Rivers will be embarking on a new experience with the Colts, having previously spent his entire NFL career with the Chargers, firstly in San Diego and then in Los Angeles.

The 38-year-old admitted he was not at his best in the 2019 season, when he threw 20 interceptions for a team that missed out on the playoffs, leading to him contemplating the idea of walking away from the sport.

However, Rivers retains the hunger to keep on playing, adding it "just all worked out" to reunite with Colts head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, having previously worked with the pair at the Chargers.

"I think really where we settled in is I still love to play, certainly not coming off my best year [in 2019], but I know I still can play at a high level," the eight-time Pro Bowler told reporters on Saturday.

"It was one of those deals where we said if there's nothing else out there then that'll be our answer. I don't want to just try to hang on to play."

He added: "I was still excited about playing and hoping to get another opportunity to continue my career and certainly thankful that it's going to be with the Colts.

"It just all worked out. I am just super thankful the way it worked out and excited to - again - be a part of it, because we know this is the ultimate team game."

Rivers has not ruled out carrying on beyond his new contract - reportedly worth $25million - but has no plans to follow the lead set by Tom Brady, who will playing in the league at 43 after joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

"I don't think you'll see me in the Tom Brady range, but I am excited and feel like I can still help a football team go win a championship," he said.

Following Rivers' arrival, and with Jacoby Brissett - last season's starting quarterback - still on the roster, the Colts have released Brian Hoyer, who joined the team last September.

The Indianapolis Colts have signed eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers to a one-year deal, according to multiple reports.

Having previously spent his entire career with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Rivers is said to have inked a deal worth $25million.

Rivers will be expected to start for the Colts ahead of Jacoby Brissett, who led the offense last year in a season that saw Indianapolis finish a disappointing 7-9.

The Colts tipped their hand that they would not be drafting a quarterback when they traded their first-round pick (13th overall) to the San Francisco 49ers for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

Rivers, 38, looked very much like a player in decline in his final season with the Chargers. He passed for 4,615 yards and 23 touchdowns but was turnover-prone as he threw 20 interceptions.

Indianapolis will hope that playing eight games in their domed Lucas Oil Stadium will help revitalise Rivers in the twilight of his career.

Rivers' familiarity with Nick Sirianni, who spent two of his four years with the Chargers as the quarterbacks coach, may also have been a motivating factor in his decision to sign for the Colts.

His arrival in Indianapolis removes the Colts as a potential destination for Tom Brady, who earlier on Tuesday announced he would be leaving the New England Patriots after 20 seasons.

Philip Rivers will enter free agency after 16 years with the Los Angeles Chargers.

The 38-year-old quarterback has set in excess of 30 franchise records in his long career with the Chargers but stated last month that his time in Los Angeles is likely to be over.

It was announced by the Chargers on Monday that the two parties had mutually agreed for Rivers to depart.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said: "After stepping back a bit from last season, we reconnected with Philip and his representatives to look at how 2019 played out, assess our future goals, evaluate the current state of the roster and see if there was a path forward that made sense for both parties.

"As we talked through various scenarios, it became apparent that it would be best for Philip and the Chargers to turn the page on what has truly been a remarkable run.

"We agreed that making this decision well before free agency would allow everyone to put themselves in the best position for success in 2020.

"I've said before that Philip can still compete at a top-starter level and, in a perfect world, number 17 is your quarterback forever.

"Obviously, we live in an imperfect world where the only constant is change. I think Philip's tremendous perspective, both when it comes to football and when it comes to life, helped lend clarity to a very complex situation."

Rivers is unsure what the future holds after his remarkable career with the Chargers came to an end.

"I am very grateful to the Spanos family and the Chargers organization for the last 16 years," said Rivers, a man described by owner Dean Spanos as "the heart and soul" of the franchise.

"In anything you do, it's the people you do it with that make it special. There are so many relationships and memories with coaches, support staff and team-mates that will last forever, and for that I am so thankful.

"I never took for granted the opportunity to lead this team out on to the field for 235 games. We had a lot of great moments, beginning in San Diego and then finishing in LA. I wish my team-mates and coaches nothing but the best moving forward.

"I'm not sure what the future holds, but my family and I look forward to seeing what God has planned for us next."

The Chargers have the sixth pick in the draft and already have veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the ranks

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is open to playing for another team in 2020 as the veteran insisted he plans to continue in the NFL.

The Chargers ended their season with a 31-21 defeat at the Kansas City Chiefs in Rivers' possible farewell on Sunday.

Rivers – an eight-time Pro Bowler – is out of contract after this season and the 38-year-old's future remains up in the air.

Pressed on his future post-game, Rivers was overcome with emotion as he fronted the media amid the uncertainty.

"If this is the last time here or last time in this uniform, that's a possibility," Rivers told reporters. "I think in a year like this can drain you a bit and beat you up, but the love is still there. Nothing like competing at this level.

"Living the dream. Even in this situation at 5-10… that tells me that I still have some juice left… Do I still want to [play]? Absolutely."

Rivers – selected by the Chargers with pick four in the 2004 draft – added: "Yeah, I plan to play football. Where that's going to be, that will get sorted out. I've never been in this position. We will just see. I'm very thankful for the 16 years. With uncertainty, comes unknown.

"As I stand today, as long as someone wants me, I'll be playing somewhere. But in a month, I don't know, I might be ready to put on a headset and call a play. If one of 32 teams want me and it's the right situation and I can start that 255th game in a row, I'll be running out there."

Rivers ended the campaign with 390 completed passes for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 16 games this season for the Chargers (5-11).

It was Rivers' lowest number of TDs since throwing 21 in 2007, while his 20 interceptions were the most since tallying 21 in 2016.

"There's a lot of questions that have to be answered," Rivers said. "It's not just, 'Am I back?' And we'll win 12 games. We're far from that being, 'Check that box and we're good.' That would be inaccurate.

"There's a lot of question marks moving forward. As those get answered and how those get answered along with my personal question will clear up a lot of things."

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