It was just last week that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning announced his retirement from the NFL after 16 seasons. His career already dwindling in recent years, the Giants had selected quarterback Daniel Jones in the first round in 2019, and ultimately placed him in the starting lineup.
Instead of trying to find a starting job on another team and starting over in 2020, Manning, now 39 years old, chose to retire, finishing with a career 117-117 record with nearly 5000 completions for over 57,000 passing yards, throwing 366 touchdowns. He ranks in the top 10 all-time in most of the significant quarterback statistical categories.
Manning was the first-overall pick in what has come to be one of the most celebrated quarterback draft classes in NFL history, a draft that also produced Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. All three had up to now spent their entire careers (minus draft day) with one team, but the 2020 season is already seeing major changes.
With the former retiring, it’s now being reported that the Los Angeles Chargers are mulling the possibility of moving on from Rivers after 16 seasons. It was originally reported yesterday that the team has ‘moved on’ from him, but later reports added that they are still considering their options, including the franchise tag.
As it currently stands, Rivers is projected to be an unrestricted free agent. In 2019, in posting a 5-11 record (a year after going 12-4), he went 390-for 591, throwing for 4615 yards with only 23 touchdowns to 20 interceptions. It is the third time in his career he has thrown at least 20 interceptions.
Over 16 seasons, Rivers has gone 4908-for-7591, throwing for 59,271 yards with 397 touchdowns and 198 interceptions. He is pretty much guaranteed to hit 5000 completions, 60,000 yards, 400 touchdowns, and 200 interceptions over the course of the 2020 season, all of which are pretty remarkable landmarks of longevity and success—other than the interceptions, of course.
Then there is the case of Roethlisberger. While it seems likely that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ intention is to ride with him for as long as they possibly can, if they ever get the opportunity to draft their quarterback of the future, they will take that chance, especially now entering his age-38 season and coming off elbow surgery.
That obviously won’t come this year, with no first-round pick. But what if the Steelers bottom out in 2020, and end up with a top-10 pick for 2021? What if a top prospect is available? It’s hard to imagine them not going after that player. After all, Roethlisberger won’t even commit to more than the life of his contract anyway, so for all they Steelers know, they need a quarterback for 2022 regardless.