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Philip Rivers considered retirement before free agency

Philip Rivers had been publicly linked to the Indianapolis Colts for weeks. The conversation began before the Chargers announced in early February their longtime franchise quarterback would be entering free agency.

By then, the Colts, whose head coach and offensive coordinator spent years working with Rivers, had already proclaimed "the jury's still out" on Jacoby Brissett as their starter. Even Melvin Gordon weighed in, predicting Rivers would end up in Indy. There was a Rivers-clan worth of dots connecting the two sides.

The assumptions proved correct, with Rivers signing a one-year deal last week for a fully guaranteed $25 million, as NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. The gunslinger reiterated this weekend he was confident he still had bullets in his right arm. But he also revealed he was considering retirement if he didn't field an offer this offseason, presumably to start.

"I think really where we settled in is I still love to play, certainly not coming off my best year [in 2019], but I know I still can play at a high level," Rivers said on a conference call with reporters this weekend. "... It was one of those deals where we said if there's nothing else out there then that'll be our answer. I don't want to just try to hang on to play."

The Colts spared him the uncertainty, reuniting Rivers with Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni, both of whom served as his quarterbacks coach at different points in San Diego, with Reich also fulfilling OC duties for two seasons (2014-15). Rivers averaged 30 touchdown passes and 15.5 interceptions over those years, and threw for a career-high 4,792 yards in 2015. In four seasons since, Rivers' yards, TDs and completion percentage haven't fluctuated much but his INTs have spiked to 20 on two occasions, including last year.

That's partly why Rivers hit free agency for the first time in his 16-year career. It's also why he was interested in a reunion with Reich and Sirianni.

"We communicate the same way," Rivers said. "I know what those guys are trying to get out of a play and why they are calling this. They understand how I think and why I look for things. There's a good dynamic there in the way we think. I do think there's a trust factor that was built there in our time in San Diego. I think that's important to have that trust."

It also helps that, after years of shaky pass protection, the 38-year-old Rivers will be working behind what is widely believed to be one of the best offensive lines in the league. He said a bounce-back season could extend his stay in Indianapolis a bit longer.

"I take it one year at a time," Rivers said. "If I feel good, I'll keep going. I don't want to get carried away. You won't see me in the Tom Brady (age) range. I still feel like I can help a football team go win a championship."

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