Carolina Panthers: Five free-agent quarterbacks the team could target

Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Philip Rivers

Assuming he doesn’t return to the Chargers, Philip Rivers could become one of the most sought-after players on the free-agent market. The 16-year veteran turned 38 in December, despite just having completed his seventh-straight season with at least 4,000 passing yards. At the start of the season, Rivers was expected to lead the Chargers to the playoffs for the second year in a row; however, a season filled with late-game heartbreak and close losses has made his future with the franchise cloudier than ever.

Going all the way back to his college days, Rivers already has Carolina ties. He spent four years at N.C. State in the early 2000s before being drafted fourth overall in 2004. During that time, he became the ACC’s all-time leader in passing yards and completions. He also ranks second in conference history in passing touchdowns. Since coming into the NFL, Rivers has been elected to the Pro Bowl eight times, and ranks sixth all-time in passing yards and touchdowns. The downside of a potential Rivers signing is that like fellow 2004 draftees Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, he may be beginning to fall off a bit. Rivers posted the second-worst quarterback rating of his career, and threw the third-most interceptions in 2019.

While he will likely return to Los Angeles in 2020, oddsmakers do currently give Carolina the fourth-best odds to land the long-time Chargers quarterback. Given that he’s nearing the end of his career, signing Rivers would signify that the Panthers believe they are capable of competing now, although he could also be brought on to help develop a young quarterback such as Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa. Regardless, there’s a fairly good chance that he can continue to play at a high level for at least a couple more years. For Rivers, the Carolinas may feel as much like home as anywhere outside California.