Colts' Darius Leonard: Philip Rivers' Retirement 'Definitely a Complete Shock'

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IFebruary 16, 2021

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) talks with outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

The Indianapolis Colts are searching for a new quarterback after Philip Rivers' retirement, a position that linebacker Darius Leonard didn't expect the team to be in this offseason.

In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Leonard said he thought the 17-year quarterback may have been readying to return for 2021.

"It was definitely a complete shock. You know, just talking to him a couple of days before he announced it, he still didn't know what he was gonna do. Me personally, I do believe that he has some left in the tank. He played very well this year for us and I thought he was going to come back the next year and do the same exact thing and play even better."

SiriusXM NFL Radio @SiriusXMNFL

.@Colts LB Darius Leonard said he was surprised Philip Rivers retired and discussed how much he listens to the QB rumors... "I honestly don't care who's the quarterback, as long as the quarterback comes in with the right mentality." ⬇️VIDEO⬇️ | #Colts | #ForTheShoe https://t.co/6rwljcS0nz

Rivers announced Jan. 20 that he would step away from the NFL after a lengthy career that was spent almost entirely with the Chargers franchise. Rivers joined the Chargers in 2004 in a draft-day trade and slotted in as the team's starter in 2006, when he began a streak of 240 regular-season starts that is topped only by Brett Favre's 297, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

He led the Colts to an 11-5 record in 2020, marking the eighth consecutive season in which he collected at least 4,000 passing yards. It was the Colts' second postseason appearance in three seasons.

Now, things could look different in Indianapolis, where the team's fourth-round pick Jacob Eason and free-agent pickup Jalen Morton are the only rostered quarterbacks.

While the Colts are ready to embark on the hunt for their next signal-caller, Leonard isn't too interested in the technicalities of it.

"I honestly don't care who's the quarterback, as long as the quarterback comes in with the right mentality and they're gonna help us win ballgames," he said. "I don't care if he's young, I don't care if he's old, I don't care if he's well-known or not. If you're going to come in and put the team first and help us win ballgames, come on down to the Indianapolis Colts."

With plenty of options on the market—including Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cam Newton among free agents and Deshaun Watson seeking a move out of Houston—there's sure to be someone who fits Leonard's bill.