Patriots should stay away from Philip Rivers

by Jordy McElroy

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has earned the right to ride off into the sunset as a Los Angeles Charger if he so chooses in the offseason. But the Patriots would do good to stay away from any Freaky Friday-like experiments that would send Brady to Los Angeles and Philip Rivers to New England.

Stay the hell away.

Rivers had a phenomenal career in the 16 years he spent with the Chargers organization, racking up eight Pro Bowl invitations and leading the league in several statistical categories, including passing yards in 2010. Even if his name isn’t called up to Canton, he has done more than enough to be immortalized in the Chargers Hall of Fame.

Those are tremendous past accomplishments Patriots head coach Bill Belichick can admire from afar. If he believes Brady is declining, Rivers is already in a full-on freefall and, likely, one season away from hitting rock bottom. There is no need in a desperation signing just to see him go splat in a Patriots uniform.

Rivers completed 390 passes for 4,615 yards and 23 touchdowns in the Chargers’ pass-heavy offense in 2019. He also threw 20 interceptions and finished with a career-low touchdown percentage. The dwindling arm strength is glaring, and the decision-making under fire clearly isn’t the same as it used to be.

“Well, Rivers never had great arm strength.”

That’s been the constant argument from those that aren’t quite ready to close the book on the 38-year-old quarterback. However, for a Patriots organization that prides itself on playing their best football in January, there is no place where Rivers actually fits in.

He is 5-6 in the postseason with 2,656 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His struggles in performing under playoff pressure prompted his former teammate, LaDainian Tomlinson to suggest the team would have won a Super Bowl if the Chargers never let Drew Brees walk out the door.

Ouch.

It seems like a stretch to think Rivers could suddenly flip the switch under the bright lights as a member of the most demanding organization in the league. He would also likely be making a serious downgrade in skilled position players. There is no Melvin Gordon at running back, no Hunter Henry at tight end and no Keenan Allen or Mike Williams at receiver. The degree of difficulty would be exceptionally greater in Foxborough.

Why would the Patriots make that sort of reach when they could simply go all in to re-sign Brady?

Even the option of blowing up the roster and starting from scratch would be a better idea than bringing in Rivers. The team still has the choice of moving up in the 2020 NFL Draft to select former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. A more cost-effective option would be bringing in a guy like Teddy Bridgewater to help bridge the gap (no pun intended) for Tagovailoa to take the reins at some point.

If the Patriots get really desperate, they could blow up the roster and see what they have in Jarrett Stidham, while simultaneously hoping to be bad enough to come within reach of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence in 2021.

An even longer shot option would be Andrew Luck returning, and the Patriots working out a blockbuster trade with the Indianapolis Colts to send the former heir to Peyton Manning’s throne to play for Belichick. That sort of move would elicit Change.org petitions being created all over the league.

It’s one of many preposterous options for the Patriots that still make more sense than signing Rivers.

At a time when quarterbacks playing beyond age 40 are being normalized, the Chargers are ready to kick the bucket on their current situation. The pieces are already in place for them to possibly compete for a Super Bowl, and they would still rather start from scratch than continue on with Rivers.

Why would a Patriots organization stuck at a crossroads between competing and rebuilding want to go down that path?

It’s a dilapidated one that would likely lead to even more disappointment than the team experienced this season—one that would bring more questions and less time to solve them.  

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