Following the Chargers’ release of Philip Rivers, the Carolina Panthers have some of the highest odds of landing the veteran quarterback.
According to several oddsmakers, the Carolina Panthers are among the top potential suitors for longtime Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. As of now, the Panthers quarterback situation continues to be in flux, as Cam Newton’s overall health remains to be seen. It’s likely that if he’s healthy, he’ll be in Carolina this season. If he’s not, though, the team will almost certainly look to outside options. That’s where Rivers comes into play. The 38-year-old Rivers has spent the past 16 seasons with the Chargers, and played college football at nearby N.C. State, where he broke records in almost every major statistical category. Despite his ties to the Carolinas, the potential addition of Rivers simply doesn’t make sense.
With a “changing of the guard” in Carolina, many expect a rebuild of sorts. At 38 years old, Rivers doesn’t exactly fit into that plan.
When owner David Tepper decided to fire former head coach Ron Rivera, he sent a message. When the team parted ways with Luke Kuechly and Greg Olsen, it signified what many had already concluded: the Panthers are entering a new era. Gone are the days where “mediocre” was acceptable and it was fine to be a small market team. Since buying the team prior to the 2018 campaign, Tepper has taken numerous steps to advance the organization. He has broken ground on new practice facilities, he has begun to implement analytics and sports sciences, and he has requested the city of Charlotte construct a state-of-the-art stadium. Heck, he has even brought an MLS franchise to the Queen City.
With all of that being said, the Panthers are creating a new era on the field as well. As a result, many fans and experts alike expect the team to undergo at least a “mini” rebuild. Because of that, signing a quarterback that will be 39 by the end of the 2020 season doesn’t seem to align with what the Panthers are wanting to do. Instead, they will likely want to build for the future. Perhaps a player like Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa could fall to Carolina in this year’s draft, and if not, then they could potentially go after Justin Fields or Trevor Lawrence in 2021. Seeing as though the Panthers aren’t expected to be Super Bowl contenders in the upcoming season, it ultimately wouldn’t make sense to ship away a not-that-old Newton just to sign a guy who is nearly a decade older.
Other factors such as money and offensive scheme could also explain why signing Rivers wouldn’t make sense.
Currently, one of the biggest factors in the Cam Newton conundrum is the fact that he is due $21.1 million in 2020. Rivers was due to count even more towards the cap for the upcoming season, and despite being cut, his borderline Hall of Fame resume will likely be enough to land him a fairly good contract. With that being said, Rivers may not come much cheaper than Newton, and Newton is nine years younger, and undoubtedly has a higher ceiling at this point in their respective careers. So, even from a financial standpoint, there’s no real benefit to signing the Chargers legend.
A second aspect of the Panthers’ plan moving forward that could make Rivers a poor fit is the offensive scheme. Hours before Kuechly retired, Carolina hired former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady as their offensive coordinator. During his one season at LSU, Brady thrived with a mobile, gunslinging quarterback. Similarly, Matt Rhule has succeeded with athletic signal-callers as well. While Rivers has certainly shown that he can light it up through the air, he’s not mobile at all. In 16 seasons, he barely has 600 yards on the ground. To complicate matters even further, Rivers regressed as a passer in 2019. He threw the second most interceptions in the league, and had almost as many picks as he did touchdown passes.
From a personal standpoint, it’s unknown whether or not Rivers himself would welcome playing in Carolina.
Not even a week after officially parting ways with the Chargers, Philip Rivers is at a crossroads in his life. At 38, he has the choice the keep playing football, or focus on his family. Rivers and his wife Tiffany have nine kids together, ranging from ages 17 to 11 months. With that being said, he has a family to look after. He made it clear during his time with the Chargers that it was important that he be there for his growing family. Recently, the entire Rivers family relocated from San Diego to Florida. He commuted to and from home every day while with the Chargers, and if he were to play for the Panthers, that obviously wouldn’t be possible. At this point in his life, the decision may come down less to money and wins, and more to life and family after football.