Wed Jan 20 10:14am ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) reacts during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Indianapolis Colts' Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass to Jack Doyle for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) calls out to his teammates during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Longtime NFL quarterback Philip Rivers has decided to retire after playing one year in Indianapolis.
''Every year, January 20th is a special and emotional day. It is St. Sebastian's Feast day, the day I played in the AFC championship without an ACL, and now the day that after 17 seasons I'm announcing my retirement from the National Football League,'' Rivers said in a statement on the Colts' website. ''Thank you God for allowing me to live out my childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL. I am grateful to the Chargers for 16 seasons, and the Colts for the 17th season.''
Rivers' decision comes less than two weeks after the Colts' lost 27-24 at Buffalo in a wild-card game.
Rivers spent his first 16 seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers after being acquired in a draft-day trade that sent the top overall pick, Eli Manning, to the New York Giants in 2004. Manning went on to win two Super Bowls with the Giants and retired after last season.
While the 39-year-old Rivers never played in a Super Bowl, it was one of the few glaring omissions on an otherwise remarkable resume.
Rivers spent his first two years in San Diego backing up Drew Brees before taking over as the starter when Brees left in free agency.
Over the next 15 years, Rivers never missed another game, starting all 252 including the playoffs. He even played on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the AFC championship game following the 2007 season.
''It's certainly important to me and I'm thankful that I've been healthy enough to be out there,'' Rivers said in November when asked about the streak. ''I do think there is something about that availability, being there each and every week. Certainly, there are circumstances that you can't, but thankfully I've been able to. I think there is a fine line there. You don't just try to keep that alive to keep it alive.''
But he was more than just dependable with his unusual, shot put-like throwing motion.
Rivers won 134 career games - No. 2 among quarterbacks without a Super Bowl ring - and is eighth all-time. Only Tom Brady (230), two-time Super Bowl champs Peyton Manning (186) and Ben Roethlisberger (156), Brees (172) and Hall of Famers Brett Favre (186), John Elway (148) and Dan Marino (147) won more regular-season games.
Rivers also finished his career ranked fifth in career completions (5,277), yards passing (63,440) and touchdown passes (421).
And he didn't slow down in 2020.
Instead, he played better the longer the season went - perhaps not a surprise considering he joined a new team and had almost no offseason work with his new receivers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through Indy's first five games, Rivers threw five interceptions and four TD passes. Over the final 12, he had 22 TD passes and six interceptions. His completion percentage (68%) was the second highest of his career and he led the Colts to an 11-5 mark and their second playoff appearance since 2015 .
He did all of it while playing the final seven games with an injured toe on his right foot.
And yet as the former North Carolina State star continued his quest for that elusive championship season, Rivers had already been making plans for his post-playing days.
Last summer, he accepted the head coaching job at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama, where he hopes to coach his sons - just like his father coached him.
''If (the future) is here, in Indy playing another year then we'll be here,'' Rivers said following the season finale. ''If it's not I'll be on a sideline somewhere - I know where - I'll be on the sideline with a ball cap coaching the heck out of a high school football team down in south Alabama.''
Rivers was selected to eight Pro Bowls and holds the Chargers' franchise records in every major passing category.
Interview with a Champ
Long-time San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers announced his retirement from football on Wednesday. Rivers went to the Chargers in a draft-day trade in 2004 and played for the Bolts for 16 seasons before spending his 17th and final NFL season with the Colts. He played in 244 games, starting the final 240 without missing a game, the second-longest streak by an NFL QB behind Brett Favre's 297. The 39-year-old finishes his career ranked fifth all-time with 63,440 passing yards and 421 touchdown passes. "I can sit here and say, 'I can still throw it. I love to play,'" Rivers said. "But that's always going to be there. I'm excited to go coach high school football." The future Hall of Famer topped 4,000 passing yards for the eighth straight season in 2020 and 12th time in his career.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (concussion) remains in the NFL's concussion protocol after leaving the Divisional Round contest against the Browns early, but there is optimism that he'll be able to play in the AFC Championship on Sunday against the Bills. Mahomes will have a very light practice on Wednesday and could be listed as a limited or non-participant, according to a source. His work is expected to ramp up throughout the week as he tries to clear each step in the league's protocols. Mahomes cleared some steps on Monday, and the fact that he'll attempt to practice on Wednesday is a good sign, but he's not out of the woods by a long shot. If he cannot go this weekend, veteran Chad Henne is expected to get the start, which would downgrade all of KC's offensive skill players in fantasy. The former MVP is still worth starting if he suits up, but he'll be a tad bit riskier than usual.
Free-agent wide receiver Corey Coleman has been suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2021 season due to a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Coleman was the 15th overall pick of the Cleveland Browns back in 2016. He played in just 19 games for Cleveland in his first two seasons before joining the Giants in 2018. Most recently, the 26-year-old from Baylor was released from the Giants practice squad in November of last season. Coleman hasn't played in an NFL game in the last two years, and this off-the-field setback won't help him as he tries to land a gig with a new team heading into the 2021 season.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (knees) said he had surgery on both of his knees on Tuesday. He also said he would have been out for the season after Week 2, but instead he battled through his injuries and made the Pro Bowl. The second-year wideout did miss two games, but he managed to finish as the 10th-ranked fantasy wideout in standard scoring after catching 70 passes on 106 targets for 1,073 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 23-year-old is expected to be ready for the 2021 season and is an easy top-10 fantasy wideout after going over 1,000 yards receiving in his first two NFL seasons while hauling in 19 total touchdowns. On top of it all, Brown is one of the best pass-catchers in the league at racking up yards after the catch.
Buffalo Bills rookie running back Zack Moss (ankle) underwent a minor surgical "tight rope" procedure on his ankle on Tuesday. Moss is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for offseason workouts and training camp. The 23-year-old was injured in the wild-card win over the Colts and won't be available for the rest of Buffalo's postseason run. But Moss impressed as a rookie, carrying the ball 112 times for 481 yards and four touchdowns while also catching 14 passes on 18 targets for 95 yards and an additional score. He should continue to be featured alongside Devin Singletary in 2021, but Moss should be the more attractive RB3/flex if the Bills continue to use him more than Singletary in the red zone and near the goal line. With quarterback Josh Allen breaking out in 2020, Buffalo's offensive arrow is only pointing up, giving Moss plenty of room for improvement going into Year 2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Vita Vea (ankle) was designated to return from the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Buffalo Bills RB Devonta Freeman, C Jonotthan Harrison, WR Kenny Stills and RB Antonio Williams were designated as protected practice squad players for the AFC Championship Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Free-agent WR Corey Coleman (Giants) was suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2021 season for a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy on Tuesday, Jan. 19, according to a source.
Updating a previous report, Baltimore Ravens RB Mark Ingram was officially waived Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Fantasy Spin: Ingram was a healthy scratch in each of four of Baltimore's last five games, seeing his only action over that time in a Week 17 blowout win. The writing was on the wall for his eventual departure following the selection of J.K. Dobbins in the 2020 draft, but releasing a veteran like Ingram - especially at this point of the year - is highly unusual. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner is likely to catch on somewhere else this offseason and serve as a useful committee back, but his days of fantasy relevancy are probably over.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Deone Bucannon was signed off the practice squad Tuesday, Jan. 19. The Buccaneers also placed LB Jack Cichy (elbow) on the Reserve/Injured list and designated RB Kenjon Barner (groin) for return from the Reserve/Injured list.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers designated running back Kenjon Barner (groin) for return from Injured Reserve on Tuesday, allowing him to resume practicing with the team. The team also placed linebacker Jack Cichy (arm) on Injured Reserve after he broke his arm in the Divisional Round against the Saints and signed linebacker Deone Bucannon from the practice squad to the active roster in a corresponding move. Barner will be allowed to practice with the team this week, but it doesn't mean he'll come off IR and join the active roster for the NFC Championship against the Packers on Sunday. Barner, a sixth-round pick of the Panthers in 2013, was active for six games this season but didn't receive a single carry and was targeted once in the passing game.
A misdemeanor battery charge against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mackensie Alexander was dismissed on Tuesday. The charge stemmed from last August in relation to the disappearance of his father. Alexander entered deferred prosecution on Dec. 8, which led to the charges being dismissed. Part of the terms of the agreement included 24 hours of community service and participation in an anger-management course. Alexander allegedly went to a man's house to discuss the incident with his father, hit him and caused minor injuries. He pleaded not guilty and completed the pretrial diversion program on Jan. 13. The fifth-year player started in 10 of his 13 games in 2020 and recorded 47 tackles and one interception.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (concussion, toe) cleared 'some big steps' Tuesday, Jan. 19, but remains in the league's concussion protocol with what is considered a concussion. According to sources via ESPN's Adam Schefter, it is still 'too early to say that he definitely will play' against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship.
Fantasy Spin: Nothing new to see here other than Mahomes appears to be about halfway through the five-step protocol. Schefter added that the quarterback is expected to practice Wednesday, which would obviously be another step in the right direction. Chad Henne is a capable but unexciting option for the Chiefs if Mahomes has a setback or can't go Sunday, but it sure feels as though it won't come to that.
Free-agent RB John Kelly signed a Reserve/Future contract with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (concussion) cleared "some big steps" on Monday, but he remains in the league's concussion protocol, and it's too early to say definitively that he will play in the AFC Championship against the Bills, according to sources. We'll have a better idea of Mahomes' chances of playing this Sunday once the Chiefs begin practicing on Wednesday, but he'll need full clearance from the protocol in order to play against Buffalo. If the 25-year-old cannot play, veteran Chad Henne would likely start under center after replacing Mahomes in the Divisional Round against the Browns. Mahomes threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 6 win over Buffalo, but he'll be riskier than usual at his high price in DFS if he plays this weekend.
The Los Angeles Rams are focusing on former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator/interim head coach Raheem Morris as their new defensive coordinator, according to sources. It's looking like Morris will be the one to replace Brandon Staley, who was hired as the Chargers new head coach. Morris was Atlanta's interim head coach for the last 11 games of the 2020 season after Dan Quinn was fired, and he went 4-7 to close out the year. The Falcons Defense allowed 30-plus points in four of their first five games, but they turned things around on that side of the ball once Morris took over. The 44-year-old was Tampa's head coach from 2009-11, with the team going 17-31 in that stretch. Morris worked with Rams head coach Sean McVay in Tampa and also in Washington.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen has thrown for league-best marks of 1,907 yards and 19 touchdowns against the blitz this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is scheduled to interview with the Philadelphia Eagles regarding their head coaching vacancy Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is reportedly nearing a deal to become the new defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, according to sources.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) is likely to have surgery on the torn deltoid and other ligaments in his ankle this offseason, according to a source. Thomas knew it was likely quarterback Drew Brees' last year and didn't want to miss out on a possible Super Bowl run. A high-ankle sprain limited the All-Pro wideout to just seven games this year. He often was playing at far less than 100 percent, catching just 40 passes for 438 yards and no touchdowns during the regular season. The 27-year-old did find the end zone in the wild-card win over the Bears, but he was a massive fantasy bust as the first receiver off the board in the first round in most drafts after his 149-catch, 1,725-yard season in 2019. Thomas should be a top-10 wideout, if healthy, in 2021, but losing Brees will also be a downgrade for his overall outlook moving forward.