LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Chargers and longtime quarterback Philip Rivers have "mutually agreed to part ways," the team announced Monday.
The news comes after weeks of speculation about Rivers' future with the team after his contract expired following the 2019 season.
Rivers' remarkable 16-season run with the Chargers included the team's tumultuous first three years in Los Angeles and more than a decade in San Diego, where he remained beloved to many even after the team's departure.
He owns more than 30 franchise records and won 123 regular season games for the team. Rivers went to eight Pro Bowls as the Chargers' quarterback as he racked up 397 career touchdowns, good for sixth-most all-time.
"Through 16 seasons, 224 consecutive starts and more 'dadgummits' and 'shoots' than any of us can count, not only has Philip Rivers been our quarterback, he's been the heart and soul of our organization," the team's owner, Dean Spanos, said in a written statement.
"He always went out of his way to interact with the fans, and he even made fans of nuns. Over the years, I think he broke just about every team record in the book and, simply put, it was just fun to watch him play football."
After what would turn out to be his final game as a Charger, a December loss to the Chiefs, Rivers gave an emotional news conference, reflecting on his time with the team.
“I can say I gave it everything I had, every week,” he told reporters. "Going into the locker room, win or lose, I can say, ‘Dagumit, we fell short — or we won — but, shoot, I couldn’t have tried any harder.'"
In January, Rivers and his family left their home in San Diego to live in Florida "permanently." Now he will enter free agency, where he is likely to attract interest from at least a few teams seeking a veteran signal-caller.
After the 2019 season, San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Tom Krasovic told readers not to rule out a Rivers retirement if he didn't return to the Chargers.
"If the right job didn’t line up for him and his family, Rivers choosing to launch his youth-coaching career, with sixth-grade son Gunner Rivers getting most of his football attention, wouldn’t be shocking,” the sportswriter said.
Meanwhile, the football team in Los Angeles is poised to move to a new stadium in 2020. They will do so without #17 at the helm. An era of Chargers football has ended.