Rivers to enter free agency, ending Chargers run

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Philip Rivers will enter free agency this year, officially ending his 16-year run with the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Chargers and Rivers jointly announced the veteran quarterback’s decision Monday, with general manager Tom Telesco saying that the timing of the announcement will “allow everyone to put themselves in the best position for success in 2020.”

Rivers, 38, is the most prolific passer in Chargers history, but signaled that his time with the franchise likely was over last month when he moved his family from San Diego to Florida.

The eight-time Pro Bowler passed for 4,615 yards and 23 touchdowns — his fewest since 2007 — with 20 interceptions this past season, but Los Angeles struggled to a disappointing 5-11 record and a last-place finish in the AFC West.

“After stepping back a bit from last season, we reconnected with Philip and his representatives to look at how 2019 played out, assess our future goals, evaluate the current state of the roster and see if there was a path forward that made sense for both parties,” Telesco said. “As we talked through various scenarios, it became apparent that it would be best for Philip and the Chargers to turn the page on what has truly been a remarkable run.

“We agreed that making this decision well before free agency would allow everyone to put themselves in the best position for success in 2020.”

Rivers is sixth in NFL history in both career passing yards (59,271) and touchdown passes (397). He led the Chargers to the playoffs six times in his 14 years as their starter, including an appearance in the 2007 AFC championship game.

“I am very grateful to the Spanos family and the Chargers organization for the last 16 years,” Rivers said in a statement. “In anything you do, it’s the people you do it with that make it special. There are so many relationships and memories with coaches, support staff and teammates that will last forever, and for that I am so thankful.

“I never took for granted the opportunity to lead this team out on to the field for 235 games. We had a lot of great moments, beginning in San Diego and then finishing in LA. I wish my teammates and coaches nothing but the best moving forward.

“I’m not sure what the future holds, but my family and I look forward to seeing what God has planned for us next.”

Rivers will be one of the highest-profile quarterbacks in a free-agent market that also could include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater.

“I’ve said before that Philip can still compete at a top-starter level and, in a perfect world, number 17 is your quarterback forever,” Telesco said. “Obviously, we live in an imperfect world where the only constant is change. I think Philip’s tremendous perspective, both when it comes to football and when it comes to life, helped lend clarity to a very complex situation.”

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