Free agent quarterback Philip Rivers will not be signed by the Indianapolis Colts.
Since Rivers and the Chargers announced their intention to split after 16 years, it has been speculated by national media without local insight that the Colts would be the best fit.
The reason has nothing to do with fan distaste for the former Chargers quarterback earned when he dispatched the Colts in the 2008 and 2009 playoffs, or his hyper-competitive histrionics. While true Colts fans loathe Rivers with a unique passion, the reason he will never wear the Horseshoe has nothing to do with that.
It won’t happen because the goal of the organization, according to owner Jim Irsay, is to win the Super Bowl. Not only did Rivers fail to win a Super Bowl throughout his prime in San Diego – he never played in one. No reasonable person can project Rivers as an upgrade so profound for the Colts he leads a team that was 7-9 in 2019 to a Super Bowl?
The Colts focus is not to be an 8-8 or 9-7 team. It’s to build sustainable championship contention. Rivers didn’t bring that to San Diego when he was 28. It’s silly to believe he can be that guy 10 years later.
Want some more basic reasons Rivers won’t be the Colts quarterback in 2020?
- Threw 20 picks last year (third time in his career with picks totaling 20 or more).
- Sacked 34 times in 2019.
- Had a QBR of under 48.9 (50 is perfectly mediocre)
- Jacoby Brissett already costs a minimum of $9-million for 2020, and Rivers would cost a minimum of $16M. Add the salary of a third quarterback who would be drafted to eventually replace Brissett and Rivers, and the quarterback position would become disproportionately expensive to the quality of play.
- Colts GM Chris Ballard is a stalwart believer in mitigating risk by building his roster through the draft, and there is no position more important to a roster than quarterback.
There are a few mitigating factors that make the Colts seem like a potential destination for Rivers. The first and second are that Brissett is almost certain to be replaced as the incumbent starter and Colts coach Frank Reich worked with Rivers from 2013-2015. At least we assume that familiarity is a positive between Reich and Rivers.
But those things we have learned about Ballard during his first three years as general manager would lead to the conclusion that he is far more likely to draft the next starting quarterback rather than in free agency.
Will it be Eason, Love, Fromm, or someone else? Who knows.
Two things will be true once all the silt settles from free agency and the draft – the Colts will have drafted their next quarterback and they will not trade up into the top five to do it.
The draft capital necessary to move up from 13 to five is so substantial that if the resulting pick craps out or gets injured, it will kill Colts championship hopes for years. Ballard is not the kind of GM to take that level of risk.
If Ballard went to a casino, he would be at the table for hours, employing the system he exhaustively researched to give him the best chance to win. Others walk up, shoot their wad and go home broke. Ballard is disciplined and measured giving himself the best chance at a small edge against the house.
If you want to know what Ballard will do next, eliminate the riskiest option and then the next riskiest. Keep at it until you are left with choices where the downside is the most minimal. That’s where Ballard will strike.
Rivers isn’t a risk – he’s a sure loser given what the Colts’ goals are. Ballard will see that and avoid it.