Tom Brady's announcement that he was done with the Patriots dominated the NFL news cycle Tuesday, but other big-name quarterbacks also made headlines.
In the NFC South, Cam Newton's time in Carolina appears over; the Panthers reportedly are finalizing a deal with Teddy Bridgewater as his apparent replacement. In New Orleans, longtime starter Drew Brees signed a two-year extension. Meanwhile, the Colts have agreed to a one-year deal with former Chargers star Philip Rivers.
Here's what it means:
Philip Rivers to Colts | Grade: B +
In a win-now mode, the Colts are good landing spot for the veteran quarterback, who reportedly agreed to a one-year, $25 million deal. Indianapolis' offensive line is among the best in the league, and Chris Ballard is a savvy general manager who's adept at acquiring talent through trades, free agency and the draft.
A longtime Charger, Rivers can help the Colts maximize their special offensive front and buy them time to find and develop a young QB.
Despite an unsuccessful 2019 season for the Chargers, Rivers still has gas in the tank. He averaged 7.8 yards per attempt last season, tied for 11th best among qualifiers with Deshaun Watson. The veteran completed 27 passes that traveled at least 20 yards downfield, tied for seventh most in the league. Rivers' aggressive mindset will be a healthy change for a Colts team that lacked explosiveness in the passing game last season. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett ranked 31st out of 32 qualifiers with an average of 3.1 air yards per attempt, while Rivers tied for 11th with a mark of 4.1.
This deal also includes risks for the Colts. At 38, Rivers posted a passer rating of 88.5 last season (17th best in the league), his worst season mark versus the league average. Ballard must get him help at wide receiver. Getting back T.Y. Hilton, who only played 10 games in 2019, will help, but he's 30 and might be declining. This year's draft class is stacked with wide receiver talent, so the Colts should look to invest in the position there.
Indianapolis has already sent its first-round pick to San Francisco for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, so the Colts may hunt for another QB in the later rounds.
The Chargers had enough talent to compete for a championship in many of Rivers' 14 seasons as a starter there, but they always came up short. Los Angeles' 2019 season was a perfect encapsulation of Rivers' career, as the Chargers tied an NFL record with nine losses by seven points or less.
Teddy Bridgewater to Panthers | Grade: B+
The Panthers' alienation of Newton has made no sense for the past year or so. He's a special talent who was not surrounded with top-notch talent for most of his nine-year career with Carolina. The Panthers do, however, deserve credit for wooing Bridgewater as a fallback option at quarterback. Under new head coach Matt Rhule, the five-year veteran can be a stabilizing force.
Bridgewater's relationship with new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who was with the Saints' staff in 2018, certainly played a large role in his decision to join Carolina. Having that familiarity will be highly beneficial for Bridgewater as he works toward starting in Week 1 for the first time since 2015.
The guarantees haven't been reported, but Bridgewater's three-year, $60 million pact is a solid value for a 27-year-old starting-quality quarterback.
In going 5-0 as a replacement for injured starter Drew Brees in New Orleans last season, Bridgewater posted a 99.1 passer rating (league average 90.4), tossed nine touchdowns (against two interceptions) and averaged 7.1 yards an attempt.
Drew Brees signs Saints extension | Grade: A
By agreeing to a team-friendly, two-year $50 million, Brees allows the Saints to build their roster and look for a quarterback of the future. Taysom Hill, a restricted free agent whom the Saints placed a first-round tender on, is an option. But will Hill be willing to wait out 2021 to get his chance in 2022? New Orleans should consider drafting a quarterback in the 2020 or 2021 drafts. Brees is still playing at an elite level -- he threw for 59 touchdowns (against nine interceptions) the past two seasons. He also posted a career-high 116.3 passer rating in 2019.
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