The team announced that Rivers agreed to a four-year extension on Saturday night that will keep him under contract through 2019. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Rivers' extension includes $83.25 million in new money, with $65 million in guarantees. The news wraps up a rollercoaster offseason for Rivers that included some trade rumors and ambivalent statements about his future.
Credit the Chargers for standing firm that they wanted to keep their franchise quarterback. They were unbending in their public and private stance that they would do everything possible to keep Rivers. And why not? After two straight resurgent seasons, Rivers inarguably remains a top 10 quarterback.
This contract extension was not Rivers' initial plan. He was on the record as recently as March, indicating the team's looming potential move to Los Angeles was a factor in his plan to play out his contract year in 2015.
Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego, who also broke the Rivers contract news Saturday, asked Rivers in March if anything could change his mind about signing a deal before the season.
"Honestly, nothing," Rivers said on March 17. "What I can control and all I know as of today, I am signed up for one more year. I guess things could change, but with all the uncertainty in many aspects, I don't see it changing before camp gets here, and when camp gets here I'm even more certain to play it out."
Things changed. A trade to Tennessee with former Chargers coordinator Ken Whisenhunt never materialized, and Rivers' return to the South was indefinitely delayed. Once contract talks started up again post-draft, it made a ton of sense for Rivers to agree to a new deal. Now 33, Rivers played with an injured back late last season.
He's always been excellent at playing through injuries and standing tough in the pocket, but he knows how quickly careers can change. After all, Rivers is only a year removed from a bizarre Comeback Player of the Year award. (What was he coming back from exactly? Being an average starter?)
The offseason stories will soon be forgotten considering Rivers' towering history with the Chargers. It's a business, and plenty of other franchise quarterbacks have been involved in similar contractual drama over the years. Rivers should stay in San Diego to try to win the Super Bowl trophy that has eluded him thus far.
Oddly underrated despite being taken No. 4 overall in the 2004 draft, Rivers has been a superior quarterback to Eli Manning throughout his career. (Manning, incidentally, is next in line for a contract extension.)
A five-time Pro Bowl player, Rivers' throwing style and ability to deliver in a crowded pocket are truly unique. He'll make an interesting Hall of Fame debate one day. And he'll get a chance to bolster his case in San Diego over the next few years, where he started out eleven years ago as Drew Brees' backup.