The Indianapolis Colts’ official search for a franchise quarterback is underway. Philip Rivers shocked the NFL on Wednesday when he announced his retirement after 17 seasons.
Fans certainly knew it was a possibility, but perhaps many figured it’d be a more drawn out process. After all, the Colts’ season ended less than two weeks ago and Rivers enjoyed an impressive campaign in a completely new system on his first new team in 16 years. He alluded to potentially hanging up his cleats weeks ago, but with the way Indy’s season concluded in the loss to the Buffalo Bills, some figured the competitor in Rivers would want to run it back.
But sadly, this is the end of the road for the former first-round pick, who never missed a game from 2006-2020. That’s 240 games (the second-longest streak ever behind Brett Favre), a 134-106 record, 63,440 passing yards and 421 touchdowns. He led the league in passing yards once, touchdowns once, quarterback rating once, and yards per attempt three times.
One of the most vocal and entertaining quarterbacks/competitors ever has decided his run is over.
Here’s what he told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune:
"“It’s just time. It’s just right.“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.“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.”"
And here’s the statement he released on Wednesday:
Unfortunately for Rivers, he never got that Super Bowl ring, and it’s a shame because the Colts figure to be on that championship trajectory within the next few years. If Rivers proved anything, it’s that he’s one of the most durable to ever do it, clearly outlasting peers Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, both of whom were drafted the same year.
Now, the Colts will undergo their official search for a franchise quarterback, unless they decide to make another short-term move in the form of, say, a Matthew Stafford trade. But this 2021 draft class has a lot of quarterback talent, which could sway general manager Chris Ballard to rip the Band-Aid off and get Indy moving in that direction.
Could it be 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason taking over? Is Dak Prescott going to turn the NFL upside down and leave Dallas? Will Indy maybe target one of Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts in a trade? There’s a lot of consider, and it won’t be easy for Ballard and head coach Frank Reich.
And that’s a shame because they both talked about how much they enjoyed Rivers’ presence and the fact that they wanted him back for at least another year if everything worked out. Now? Rivers’ personal decision will force the Colts to move in another direction regardless if they want to or not.