By JEFF MILLERSTAFF WRITER LA Times
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.
Philip Rivers’ recruiting texts helped lure ex-Patriots receiver back to 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.
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.
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.”