Philip Rivers’ recruiting texts helped lure ex-Patriots receiver back to the Chargers

Dontrelle Inman runs a route during a New England Patriots preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 17.
Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who was released by the New England Patriots on Aug. 18, didn’t have to wait long to land with another NFL team.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The reunion began with a connection, quarterback to wide receiver, which is the way it works in football.

On and off the field, apparently.

Shortly after Dontrelle Inman was granted his release by the New England Patriots on Aug. 18, he heard from Philip Rivers.

Four days later, Inman was practicing with the Chargers.


“Phil made it a lot easier for me,” he said. “He called me, texted me, like, ‘Come on home now. You’ve been gone for too long.’ It was good to have that feeling of being wanted.”

Inman spent parts of four seasons with the Chargers before being traded to Chicago in October 2017. He re-signed last week and is expected to be a part of the wide receiver rotation.

A guy who doesn’t even play for the Indianapolis Colts anymore has a generous offer for angry fans who apparently bought season tickets only to watch Andrew Luck play.

Aug. 26, 2019

He said he spoke to two other teams, and it’s known that he had a visit with and an offer from the New York Jets. But his relationship with Rivers sealed matters.

In 41 games as a Charger, he had 107 receptions for 1,463 yards and seven touchdowns. “He knows he can depend on me to make the play,” Inman said of Rivers.

Inman said he also heard from Rivers during the offseason before he opted to sign with the Patriots. In New England, he was projected to be a possible replacement for Chris Hogan, who moved on to Carolina.

But things weren’t working out with the Patriots and Inman asked to be released. Now 30 and entering his sixth season, he explained that it was time to seek another opportunity.

“At 24 or 25, it’s easy,” Inman said. “You grind it out. You do whatever you got to do. But when you become a veteran, you have more options. It was a mutual decision, and it worked out.”

The Chargers like Inman’s route running and his understanding of the offense. He was part of a similar system last year with Indianapolis.

Chargers receiver Dontrelle Inman runs past Raiders cornerback David Amerson during a game in December 2015.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

In nine games with the Colts, he had 28 catches for 304 yards and three touchdowns. He was productive in two playoffs games, totaling eight receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown.

“I can come in and help this team win, especially since Tyrell [Williams] left” via free agency, Inman said. “It worked out well. I knew this was a great opportunity. This ended up being one of those things where it felt like family.”

No Luck for Chargers

No opponent will be more immediately impacted by Andrew Luck‘s retirement than the Chargers, who open the season Sept. 8 against Indianapolis in Carson.

Coach Anthony Lynn said he learned of Luck’s decision in the locker room Saturday before the Chargers’ preseason game against Seattle.

“Andrew’s a franchise quarterback,” he said. “We’re going to miss him. I’ve known of this young man since he was in high school. He’s a great person, comes from a great family.

“It’s just a shame that injuries caught up with him and he had to retire so soon. I’m sure he’s doing what’s best for himself and his family, and I wish him all the best.”

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck leaves the podium after announcing his retirement at a news conference on Saturday.
(Associated Press)

With Luck gone, the Colts will turn to Jacoby Brissett, who is entering his fourth season and has 17 NFL starts.

He started 15 games in 2017 when Luck was out because of a shoulder injury, going 4-11. The previous year he started twice for New England in place of an injured Tom Brady.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Lynn said. “They’ve got a lot of good things going for them. ... That was one of the hottest teams last year at the end of the season. It was more than just one man, though. That’s a good football team.”

Chargers Starters set to sit

Most of the Chargers’ starters will not play Thursday in the final exhibition at San Francisco.

Lynn suggested some of his younger offensive linemen, like Trent Scott and Forrest Lamp, would receive some snaps.

Rookie safety Nasir Adderley, a second-round selection, is expected to make his first appearance after missing most of training camp because of a hamstring injury. Another draft pick, Trey Pipkins, is expected to play as the Chargers try to accelerate his progress. Pipkins, an offensive tackle, was taken in the third round out of Sioux Falls.

“Trey’s getting better,” Lynn said. “His technique, his fundamentals. He’s coming along just fine. But I want to see him maybe get an opportunity against some starters in this league and see how much he’s developed. He won’t get that opportunity Thursday night, but maybe down the road.”


Safety Roderic Teamer, who is vying for one of the final roster spots, missed Saturday’s game because of a sore hamstring. Lynn said he is fine. ... Lynn on running back Troymaine Pope: “He’s making plays. He’s not making mistakes, and he’s showing special teams value. Exactly what you want in a young player.” … The Chargers will practice again Tuesday before departing for the Bay Area on Wednesday.