Philip Rivers' split from the Chargers of the 2020 NFL offseason. After 16 seasons together, Rivers, a likely future Hall of Fame quarterback, will look to continue his career elsewhere, while the Chargers will immediately look to find his replacement, whether that's in free agency or in the upcoming draft.
Tom Telesco, the Chargers general manager who was an executive with the Colts when Indianapolis made the difficult decision to part with Peyton Manning during the 2012 offseason, recently discussed the Chargers' decision to part with Rivers, the franchise's all-time leader in just about every statistical category.
"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."
Telesco said the decision to move on from Rivers did not take place until last week, when the Chargers' brass meet for a "day-long" meeting to chart out a course for the 2020 season, with the team's quarterback situation serving as the primary topic of conversation. On Friday, after coming to a decision, Telesco called Rivers' agent, Jimmy Sexton, to inform him of the team's decision. Telesco then called Rivers on Saturday, officially ending the 16-year partnership (Where will Rivers wind up? SportsLine breaks down the odds-on favorites).
While he didn't go into why the Chargers made the decision to move on from Rivers, an educated guess would be that Rivers' age (38) and high interception rate (he threw 20 interceptions in a second for the second time in four years in 2019) are among the main reasons why the Chargers are parting with Rivers, who is just a year removed from helping lead Los Angeles to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. It's also assumed that, by making the decision to part with Rivers, the Chargers' brass believes that there is a player -- whether in the draft or in free agency -- who is capable of leading the Chargers back to the postseason.
With the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, the Chargers will likely be in position to draft either Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert, assuming the Bengals select Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. The Chargers, with $48 million in cap space, could also try to find Rivers' replacement on the open market, as there has been speculation about the possibility of Tom Brady, a California native, signing with the Chargers in free agency.
When it comes to Rivers, Telesco called him an "all-time Charger" while forecasting a "huge celebration" between himself and the team shortly after Rivers retires. He added that, whoever fills Rivers' shoes as the Chargers' next quarterback, will hopefully have many of the same qualities Rivers possessed during his time with the franchise.
"It's going to be a little bit different," Telesco said. "I spent a lot of my career with Peyton Manning as my quarterback, and one year with Andrew Luck as the quarterback, and then seven years with Philip. But we move into a new era of Charger football. And really that's figuratively and literally, because we're moving into a brand-new stadium. As a football team, it's the nature of professional football. You wish players could play forever, and I know the fans hope their stars can play forever. It just doesn't work like that.
"But there's an excitement getting into a new era of Charger football. And you have to build this a different way without Philip here anymore. It's not gonna be easy, I know that, because from Philip you knew year after year after year, you got consistent play, high level play and a quarterback you could count on, every single day. Not just games, but practice. He was accountable day in, day out. It's gonna be new here."