Philip Rivers

What does Philip Rivers' departure mean for Chargers, Tom Brady?

What does Philip Rivers' departure mean for Chargers, Tom Brady?

Monday marks the end of an era for the Los Angeles Chargers.

The team announced it has mutually parted ways with starting quarterback Philip Rivers, who spent his first 16 NFL seasons with the franchise. Rivers was originally drafted by the New York Giants in 2004, but he was traded to the Chargers on draft day in a deal that sent Eli Manning to Big Blue. 

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So, what does Rivers' departure mean for the Chargers, and other free agents such as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady? Here's a quick overview.

1. Rivers enters loaded free agent class
The amount of quality quarterbacks who could hit free agency in March is quite impressive. The class was headlined by Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill and Teddy Bridgewater, and now Rivers must be thrown into that mix. Teams in need of a QB upgrade could have several enticing options once the free agent market opens. 

Rivers isn't an elite player, but he's been among the most consistent quarterbacks for over a decade. He's thrown for at least 4,000 yards in six consecutive seasons, and he tallied 28 or more touchdown passes in five of those campaigns. Durability might actually be Rivers' best talent. He hasn't missed a game in 14 years, and he's battled his share of injuries and suspect offensive line play. You know he's going to be out there every Sunday.

Rivers has not proven to be a strong playoff performer, and Chargers fans have seen too many late-game interceptions from him. Still, he would a better option at quarterback for a lot of teams.

2. There's officially an opening for Brady in Los Angeles
The Chargers need a new quarterback, and they now must decide to sign a veteran in free agency or use the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to find their franchise QB. 

Late last week, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reported an update on the Chargers' quarterback dilemma:

—What will the Los Angeles Chargers do at quarterback? All signs from league sources indicate the team will draft a signal-caller—either Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa—in the first round, but within the last three days there have been a number of unsolicited calls and texts about a trade for Cam Newton.

This makes sense.

The Chargers need a quarterback, but they also need to sell tickets. Bringing in a household name and marketable option is business savvy and football smart if Newton is healthy. The most likely move is still to draft the next franchise quarterback at No. 6 overall, but there's enough buzz surrounding a Newton trade to mention it here.

There are some aspects of the Chargers offense that could appeal to Brady. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are two talented wide receivers. Hunter Henry is a solid tight end when healthy. Los Angeles' offensive line also is pretty good. We also should mention the Chargers are moving into their brand new stadium in L.A. next season, and signing Brady would likely drive ticket sales and fan interest in the team.

The Patriots are a better situation for Brady in 2020 -- New England is more likely than Los Angeles to compete for an AFC title with Brady next season -- but the Chargers aren't a bad option, either.

3. Hunter Henry impact
It'll be interesting to see how the Rivers development impacts Henry's future in Los Angeles.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport offered this take Monday:

It's no secret the Patriots need to upgrade at tight end. New England never adequately replaced the retired Rob Gronkowski, and as a result, the offensive production at tight end was lacking throughout 2019. Henry would be among the best free agent tight ends available if he hit the market. 

Henry missed the entire 2018 season because of a knee injury. He returned in 2019 and tallied 55 receptions for 652 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games.

Curran: The biggest hurdle to a new Brady deal

NFL free agents 2020: Top 10 quarterbacks

NFL free agents 2020: Top 10 quarterbacks

The list of quarterbacks set to become NFL free agents in 2020 is an impressive one.

Tom Brady and Drew Brees, who are two of the greatest quarterbacks in league history, rank as the best players at the position who could hit the open market.

But beyond them, there are plenty of other quality QBs expected to be available, too. This includes the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the 2015 NFL Draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, as well as one of the top young players in the sport, Dak Prescott.

Let's look at the top quarterbacks who can become free agents in March.

Click here for the top 10 free agent QBs of 2020.

Chargers reportedly 'move on' from Philip Rivers, sparking Tom Brady speculation

Chargers reportedly 'move on' from Philip Rivers, sparking Tom Brady speculation

The Los Angeles Chargers will be in the market for a quarterback this offseason, it appears.

The Chargers have "moved on" from quarterback Philip Rivers ahead of his pending free agency, FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported Monday on "The Herd" with Colin Cowherd.

Rivers told ESPN last week he had "permanently" moved from San Diego to Florida to be closer to his family, a sign that his 16-year career with the Chargers may be coming to an end.

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That means Rivers will enter the free-agent market ... along with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who will be free-agent eligible on March 18 for the first time in his NFL career.

Los Angeles has been speculated as a possible destination for Brady, who often trains in Southern California during the offseason, has family, friends and business partners in the area and is interested in expanding his TB12 Sports brand.

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The Chargers also are set to move into the brand-new SoFi Stadium this fall and could create serious buzz around the franchise by signing Brady -- a six-time Super Bowl champion whose jersey still is among the most popular in the NFL after 20 years -- to take over for Rivers with Tyrod Taylor staying on as a backup.

Brady has played his free-agent cards close to the vest this winter, but the Chargers just became a legitimate option for the 42-year-old QB following Rivers' departure.