Philip Rivers to be a free agent 2020: Top landing spots, projected contract, latest updates, rumors and more

Tom Brady may be the winningest quarterback set to hit the open market in free agency this March, but the expectation is he will re-sign with the Patriots. The same cannot be said about the next highest-profile veteran quarterback set to hit the market. Philip Rivers is set to become a free agent when the new league year turns and the Chargers have already decided to move forward without their longest-tenured player. Since that news broke, the market for Rivers has heated up. Now, as NFL execs gathered at the combine, some of the reported interest in Rivers — and nuggets on which teams will look to go hard after him in free agency — have all started to bubble up to the surface.

Although the Chargers’ franchise stalwart’s best days are likely behind him, Rivers still has a lot left in the tank. In 2019, Rivers threw for the fourth-most single-season passing yards of his career and completed 66% of his pass attempts with more touchdowns than interceptions. Rivers is now 38 years old, but he was a Pro Bowl quarterback as recently as the 2018 NFL season, the last of a three-year stretch of consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.

As we move forward toward the start of NFL free agency in mid-March, this will serve as the hub for all Rivers-related free agent updates. From the latest rumors to Rivers’ projected contract on the open market, the top landing spots, and a lot more; when it comes to his free agency we will have it all here. 

Without further ado, let’s jump into the latest on Rivers.

Top free agent landing spots for Rivers

Now that Rivers will all but officially be moving on from the Chargers, it’s time to start speculating about where he will be playing during the 2020 season (and beyond). Several teams make sense for Rivers in free agency given their quarterback situation and the roster surrounding that position, but five teams stand out as the best fits for him. Cody Benjamin broke down the five best landing spots for Rivers, and although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the most heavily-linked to Rivers thus far, another team lands at No. 1 on the list.

  1. Colts
  2. Buccaneers
  3. Bears
  4. Panthers
  5. Raiders

Projected market value for Rivers in free agency

Over at Spotrac, one of the leading providers of NFL contract and salary cap information, they have projected Rivers’ estimated free-agent market value. Based on several factors including Rivers’ age and the market at the quarterback position, Spotrac projects Rivers to have a current calculated market value (and this could change if, say, Dak Prescott signs a long-term extension) of $24,337,191 annually. They project Rivers to receive a two-year, $48,674,382 contract in free agency. You can find the full details for Rivers’ market value projection at Spotrac.

Scouting report on Rivers (pros and cons):


  • Short and intermediate accuracy
  • Rivers throws a “runner’s ball” — more simplified: the placement of his throws allows his receiving options the most room to operate after the catch
  • Rivers throws with excellent anticipation — specifically to running backs (might still be NFL’s best in this regard) and tight ends
  • Rivers is still willing and unafraid to push the ball downfield (7.81 yards per attempt during a down 2019 season) — even with diminishing arm talent, Rivers wins downfield by anticipating where the defenders won’t be


  • Turnover rate spiked in 2019; specifically in late-game situations
  • Touchdown rate plummeted in 2019; Rivers’ 23 touchdowns were his lowest total since 2007 season
  • Overall efficiency dropped; Rivers’ 88.5 quarterback rating was his lowest since 2007 season
  • Diminishing arm talent; Rivers can still make all the throws, but his arm talent has taken a noticeable dip and he would be best-suited signing with a warm-weather team (or a team that plays home games in a dome)

Multiple reports link Rivers to the Colts

Wednesday, Feb. 26: It’s combine week and that means team execs and scouts have gathered in Indianapolis for the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. As usual with a gathering of this size, rumors and buzz have circulated. Most notably, two reports surfaced on Wednesday suggesting the Colts have interest in signing Rivers in free agency. Cody Benajmin provided more on the latest between Rivers and Indianapolis.

Melvin Gordon predicts where Rivers will sign

Thursday, Feb. 13: Over the course of their five seasons playing together, Rivers and star running back Melvin Gordon have developed a strong rapport both on and off the field. As the speculation on where Rivers will sign in March during the NFL’s 2020 free agency period continues to build, Gordon weighed in with his own prediction on where the former 2004 first-round draft pick will suit up for the 2020 season. Gordon made sure to clarify this was only his opinion, but his supporting logic is sound from an Xs and Os standpoint.

Chargers GM explains the decision

Tuesday, Feb. 11: “Once we saw the way this was heading, it was in the forefront of my mind,” Telesco told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “I mean, he’s an icon for the organization and he’s done so much here. I wanted to make sure everything was done as respectfully and classy as possible. This can be a very difficult business for all of us to be in—head coaches, GMs, players. That was the thought in my mind.”

Bryan DeArdo has more on why Telesco and the Chargers’ organization decided to move on from Rivers.

Rivers provides a timetable on how long he plans to play

Tuesday, Feb. 11: Rivers won’t be playing in the NFL for forever, but as he explained to Sam Farmer of the LA Times, he still has some “emotional fire and passion” left. Whoever signs him this March will get that, and more. Tyler Sullivan provided more information on how long Rivers plan to play for and how he feels about the mutual decision to move on from the Chargers franchise.

#ThankYouPhilip becomes a Twitter trend

Monday, Feb. 10: Just minutes after Los Angeles announced their decision to mutually move on from Rivers this offseason, Chargers fans and players took to Twitter and social media to commemorate his time with the franchise. Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has built a longstanding relationship and rapport with Rivers on and off the field and he was particularly saddened by the news. Within minutes, #ThankYouPhilip started trending. Shanna McCarriston has more on the reaction from fans and players on social media.

Chargers and Rivers agree to mutually part ways

Monday, Feb. 10: Although it’s realistic to assume that a free-agent departure from a team where a player spent 16 seasons as the face of that franchise would come with baggage, both the Chargers and Rivers are claiming a mutual departure — at least publicly. On Feb. 10, just eight days after the Super Bowl, both sides agreed to end the speculation about Los Angeles’ tie to Rivers in the upcoming 2020 free agency with an official announcement that the veteran quarterback will move on from the franchise this March. Jordan Dajani has more on the announced mutual agreement.

Early buzz connects Rivers to Tampa Bay

Monday, Jan. 20: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to enter the 2020 offseason with current franchise quarterback Jameis Winston ready to hit unrestricted free agency. According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, who reported in November that Rivers and the Chargers would likely be parting ways, there’s “a lot of buzz” about Tampa Bay as a potential landing spot for Rivers, which is intriguing for multiple reasons. 

La Canfora broke down how the quarterback market might shake out this offseason, what he’s heard about Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians’ interest in Rivers, and why the union between he and Rivers make so much sense. 

Rivers moves his family to Florida

Sunday, Jan. 19: Shortly after the conclusion of the 2019 regular season, Rivers and his family made the decision to move back closer to home — from San Diego to Florida. 

“What this means football-wise is to be determined but it was time for us to move back closer to home,” Rivers wrote during a recent text exchange with ESPN.

John Breech broke down why, based on what we do know about Rivers’ family, his decision to move them to Florida could have a major impact on his upcoming free agency.

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