LOS ANGELES -- After nearly two decades, quarterback Philip Rivers is leaving the Los Angeles Chargers and entering free agency, the team announced Monday.
The organization said the veteran quarterback and the Chargers mutually agreed to part ways after 16 seasons.
"After stepping back a bit from last season, we reconnected with Philip and his representatives to look at how 2019 played out, assess our future goals, evaluate the current state of the roster and see if there was a path forward that made sense for both parties," said General Manager Tom Telesco. "As we talked through various scenarios, it became apparent that it would be best for Philip and the Chargers to turn the page on what has truly been a remarkable run.
The 38-year-old Rivers was emotional and in a reflective mood after the Chargers' 31-21 loss to Kansas City in the season finale. He acknowledged it would be weird to be in another uniform but didn't think it would be much of an adjustment.
Rivers enters free agency as one of the top quarterbacks in a market that also could include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, among others.
"We agreed that making this decision well before free agency would allow everyone to put themselves in the best position for success in 2020.
The Chargers have plenty of questions that need to be answered during the offseason as they prepare to move into SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. They have the sixth pick in the draft in what looks to be a deep quarterback class that includes LSU's Joe Burrow, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert. The Rivers announcement comes two weeks before the NFL scouting combine begins in Indianapolis.
Los Angeles also has quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick under contract. Taylor will be entering his 10th season and has 46 starts with Buffalo and Cleveland. Stick was selected in the fifth round last season.
Besides Rivers, the Chargers' other top free agents include running back Melvin Gordon, tight end Hunter Henry, safety Adrian Phillips and fullback Derek Watt. Running back Austin Ekeler is a restricted free agent. Telesco said last month that he expects to have some salary cap flexibility when free agency begins March 18.
"There's only one Philip Rivers, and we've been fortunate to call him our QB1 for the better part of two decades," owner Dean Spanos said. "We cannot thank Philip enough for giving it his all on every single down and for the memories he created that will last a lifetime."
Rivers was drafted fourth overall by the New York Giants in the 2004 draft but was traded to the Chargers in a draft day deal for Eli Manning. Rivers went on to set 30 franchise records with the Chargers. His 224 consecutive regular-season starts are second-most among quarterbacks in NFL history and his 123 wins are ninth. He is one of six quarterbacks to eclipse 50,000 career yards and his 397 touchdowns are sixth.
The veteran quarterback passed for 4,615 yards and 23 touchdowns -- his fewest since 2007 -- with 20 interceptions this past season, in which Los Angeles was 5-11.
Rivers "permanently" moved from San Diego to Florida earlier this year to be closer to his family, the free agent told ESPN.
"What this means football-wise is to be determined but it was time for us to move back closer to home," Rivers said in a text message in January.
ESPN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.