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Colts linked to free agent QB Philip Rivers

Colts linked to free agent QB Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers will officially become a free agent March 18, following a 16-year run with the Los Angeles Chargers. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The Indianapolis Colts have been linked to free agent quarterback Philip Rivers ahead of the NFL's annual free agency period.

Sources told NFL Network Wednesday that the Colts are interested in signing the long-time Los Angeles Chargers starter. The Chargers announced in early February that Rivers will not return to the franchise in 2020. Rivers' former Chargers teammate Melvin Gordon has also said he thinks the veteran quarterback will end up in Indianapolis next season.

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Rivers officially becomes a free agent March 18, when the league's free agency period begins.

"I can't talk about any specific player," Colts owner Jim Irsay told reporters Sunday when asked about the possibility of signing a free agent quarterback. "I will say that all options are open and on the table."

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Rivers, 38, owns a 123-101 record as a starter. He has a 5-6 record in the playoffs. The eight-time Pro Bowl selection completed 66 percent of his throws for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 16 starts last season. He hasn't missed a start during his decorated NFL career.

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Jacoby Brissett was the Colts' starting quarterback in 2019, following the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck. He completed 60.9 percent of his throws for 2,942 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 starts last season for the Colts. The Colts went 7-8 in games started by Brissett and 7-9 overall, finishing third in the AFC South.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard said the team wants to "create competition" at every position on the roster. He also said the Colts will study quarterbacks in the draft and in free agency. He called Brissett's 2019 campaign a "tale of two seasons."

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"To say we're going to create competition, we're going to create competition at any spot," Ballard said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "That's going to be a year-to-year thing. Even when Andrew was our quarterback, we still studied the quarterback position.

"I just think it's important enough that it's a unique position, we know how hard they are to find and you've gotta go in-depth each and every year for that spot."

Ballard's comments Tuesday echoed what he said about Brissett in January, when he told reporters that the "jury is still out" on the former New England Patriots backup.

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Colts coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni have both previously worked with Rivers. Reich was the Chargers' offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015 after working with Rivers in 2013 as the team's quarterback coach. Sirianni worked with Rivers when he worked for the Chargers in offensive quality control and as quarterback coach.

Rivers has also been linked to the Las Vegas Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The veteran gunslinger plans to play for a maximum of two more seasons.

Rivers and his family moved from California to Florida after the 2019 regular season, fueling speculation that he could end up with an NFL franchise in Florida in 2020. He is one of several solid veteran quarterbacks expected to be available in the free agent market. Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota could also be free to sign with teams when the free agency period begins.

Brissett, 27, signed a two-year, $30 million contract with the Colts in September.

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