The 2020 NFL offseason was expected to be filled with big moves, especially since several of the league’s top quarterbacks were set to become free agents. On a frantic St. Patrick’s Day for the NFL, a day before the official start of free agency, former NC State quarterback Philip Rivers agreed to a one-year, $25 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts. Then, on Saturday, March 21, Rivers officially signed his contract.
The move is a change of scenery for the 38-year-old after spending the first 16 seasons of his career in California with the Chargers franchise. As a member of the Chargers, Rivers threw for a total of 59,271 yards and 397 touchdowns, both of which are Chargers franchise records.
The future Hall of Famer struggled in the 2019 season, however, throwing 20 interceptions, which was the third-most of any quarterback in the NFL. With his contract expiring at the end of the season and nearing the end of his career, many speculated that the 2019 season would be his last with the Bolts.
In February, it was announced that Rivers and the Chargers would be parting ways, opening speculation as to where he would end up during free agency. From the beginning, many considered Indianapolis to be a likely destination for him.
On March 17, it was announced that Rivers would be taking his talents to Indy and playing for the Colts, a team that was looking for a quarterback after experimenting with another former NC State QB, Jacoby Brissett.
In many ways, the move is a great fit for Rivers, who has yet to make a Super Bowl appearance in his Hall of Fame-worthy career. For one, he will be playing with something he did not have with the Chargers: a good offensive line.
The Chargers have perennially had a terrible offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, only twice in the last 10 years have the Chargers had an offensive line that ranked in the top-20 in the NFL. This past season, the Chargers’ offensive line was ranked 29th out of 32 NFL teams.
Rivers now goes to a team that boasts one of the best offensive lines in the entire NFL. The Colts’ offensive line has been ranked third in the NFL by Pro Football Focus each of the last two seasons and boasts a two-time NFL All-Pro selection in Quenton Nelson. Rivers has already had some success without a quality offensive line, and now he has a chance to showcase his abilities behind one of the best offensive lines in the business.
Another aspect of Indianapolis that Rivers will get to enjoy this season is an actual home field advantage. In 2017, it was announced that the Chargers franchise would be relocating from San Diego to Los Angeles, California, which had been the team’s home for almost six decades. Since the team’s move to LA, Chargers fans have been outnumbered at their new home stadium of Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California for nearly every home game. The team has had virtually no home-field advantage at any point during its three seasons in LA.
Rivers can now look forward to not having to use a silent count in his own home stadium this season, as Lucas Oil Stadium will be where he plays his home games.
Behind perhaps one of the best offensive lines he has ever played with, Rivers will also have a number of dangerous options he can target this season, most notably wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, a four-time Pro Bowler who has gone for over 1,000 yards receiving five times in his career. Other playmakers include running back Marlon Mack, who ran for over 1,000 yards in 2019, tight end Jack Doyle, a two-time Pro Bowler, and the speedy running back Nyheim Hines, who also played college football at NC State.
The coach for the Colts is Frank Reich, who was Rivers’ quarterback coach in San Diego in 2013 and offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. Then, Reich won Super Bowl LII with the Eagles as their offensive coordinator. He knows how to coach quarterbacks and already has experience with Rivers.
All in all, this is a good fit for Rivers. With great pass protection, weapons at his disposal and a great coach, NC State’s all-time passing leader is set up well to make a run at the first Super Bowl ring of his career. Doing so will not be easy, considering the Colts compete in the AFC South. Twice a year, he will have to face the Tennessee Titans, the AFC runners-up last season, and the Houston Texans, who made it to the divisional round of the playoffs last season. However, both the Texans and Titans finished in the bottom half of the league in pass defense last season, and finishing right around the middle of the league in pass defense were the Jacksonville Jaguars, whom Rivers will also face twice a year.
The Chargers have had a significant following from NC State fans while Rivers has been the team’s starter. Now with Rivers, Hines and Brissett all playing in Indianapolis, the Colts may have a new fanbase in North Carolina.