Yes, the Indianapolis Colts actually picked Philip Rivers over Tom Brady in free agency?
The Indianapolis Colts went with Philip Rivers over Tom Brady in 2020 NFL free agency.
You bet they did, and surely they have their reasons for this, don’t they? Well, the Indianapolis Star reported on March 31 the Colts seriously looked at Brady as a free-agent quarterback, but opted to go with Rivers because of his familiarity with Indianapolis’ offensive scheme.
“We really felt like [Rivers] was the right guy for us,” Reich said.
Reich had been Rivers’ offensive coordinator previously when they worked together on the then-San Diego Chargers. Rivers had great success in Reich’s offense. Reich left San Diego to be the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator. After winning Super Bowl 52 over Brady’s Patriots, Reich would eventually be named the head coach in Indianapolis, replacing Chuck Pagano.
Even though Reich had plenty of glowing things to say about Brady, it wasn’t that the greatest quarterback of all time wasn’t a fit in Indianapolis, it just had more to do with Rivers being a better fit in the Colts organization’s eyes.
“For us, we got the guy we thought was the right fit,” Reich said. “I don’t know if I’d say [Brady] wasn’t a fit. There’s always a fit when you have a great player, when you have maybe the best player of all time. There’s a lot of factors that go into these things, and as Chris [Ballard] and I sat down and talked about it…The way this thing went, we felt good about it.”
Rivers is a few years younger than Brady, still technically on the good side of 40. Brady will be entering his age-43 season with his new team in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Upon arrival in Indianapolis and Tampa respectively, Rivers and Brady can contend for division titles on their new teams right away.
Had the Colts gone with Brady over Rivers, they’d be the presumptive favorite to win the AFC South, as opposed to being essentially co-frontrunners with the Tennessee Titans as they are now with Rivers. Brady makes Tampa Bay a playoff team who will challenge the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South next fall. Rivers may have improved the Buccaneers, too.
Overall, it feels like the Colts were never that interested in Brady. It would have been beyond weird to see him play in the same football city his long-time rival Peyton Manning made famous. Indianapolis really only felt like a long shot to get Brady anyway because his connection to Manning. Ultimately, it was scheme fit that ended up being the deciding factor to go with Rivers.