LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – It’s the end of an era. Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is leaving the Los Angeles Chargers, the franchise he defined for the better part of two decades.

FILE — Philip Rivers of the Chargers looks on from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Dignity Health Sports Park on Dec. 22, 2019 in Carson. (Getty Images)

The team announced Monday that the 38-year-old Rivers and the Chargers have “mutually agreed” to part ways after 16 seasons.

Rivers will become a free agent. He had previously said he would like to continue his career and does not want to retire.

“I am very grateful to the Spanos family and the Chargers organization for the last 16 years,” Rivers wrote in a statement. “In anything you do, it’s the people you do it with that make it special. There are so many relationships and memories with coaches, support staff and teammates that will last forever, and for that I am so thankful.

“I never took for granted the opportunity to lead this team out on to the field for 235 games. We had a lot of great moments, beginning in San Diego and then finishing in LA. I wish my teammates and coaches nothing but the best moving forward.

“I’m not sure what the future holds, but my family and I look forward to seeing what God has planned for us next.”

Rivers was drafted by the Chargers No. 4 overall in the 2004 draft. After backing up Drew Brees for two seasons, he took the reigns in 2006 when Brees left in free agency to join the New Orleans Saints.

Rivers was an iron man from that point on, never missing a game. He has started 235 consecutive games in the regular season and playoffs, ranked second all-time for consecutive starts behind only Brett Favre.

He has also thrown for 59,271 yards and 397 touchdowns, both are sixth all-time.

However, despite his stellar numbers, the playoff success of his contemporaries — Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Brees — has eluded him. Rivers has a career playoff record of just 11-11 and has made only one AFC title game. He has never played in a Super Bowl. It’s likely that Rivers will seek out a franchise that gives him one last run at a trophy.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said the decision was made ahead of free agency to allow both sides “to put themselves in the best position for success in 2020.”

“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,” Telesco wrote in a statement. “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.”

It’s unclear where there Chargers will turn now for quarterback help as they prepare to leave Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson and move to their new home, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, which they’ll be sharing with the Rams. The Bolts have been listed as a possible destination for free agent Tom Brady if he chooses to leave the New England Patriots. The Chargers could also explore drafting a quarterback as they hold the No. 6 overall pick and could go after the likes of Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

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