Philip Rivers has been the quarterback of the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers for the past 16 years, but that relationship appears to be coming to an end this offseason, as Rivers will be a free agent and the Chargers have publicly stated they’re looking to move on. Rivers also moved from his San Diego home to Florida. The 38-year-old has made it known that he would prefer playing for a team where he can live with his wife and nine children. Could this mean the North Carolina State grad could be interested in taking his talents to the Tampa Bay area?
It would be a good match. The Bucs’ current quarterback, Jameis Winston, is a free agent himself and is coming off of a tumultuous campaign that saw him become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He also threw for 5,000 plus yards, no small feat, regardless of how many interceptions are thrown. Plus, Winston seems confident that he can become an elite quarterback if he cuts out the turnovers (“You look at my numbers. I’m ballin.’”), but hasn’t that been his problem throughout his career in Tampa? What makes anyone think next year will be different?
Despite Winston’s confidence (or is it ignorance?) that he can turn things around, head coach Bruce Arians seems to be confident that the Bucs will do just fine with another quarterback, saying “We can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one, too,” when asked about the team’s chances with someone different under center. Moving on from Winston seems to be a direction the veteran coach is satisfied with.
As for Rivers, he’s coming off an average year. He threw 23 TD’s and 20 INT’s, plus 4,615 yards. His team finished with an abysmal 5-11 record, a huge disappointment following their 12-4 finish in the 2018-2019 season that included a playoff appearance. If Rivers were to come to Tampa Bay, he would be playing with two receivers that finished in the top 5 in receiving yards, plus a pair of tight ends in O.J Howard and Cameron Brate that have proven to be reliable targets. The Bucs’ offensive line could use some improvement, and their running game has been pedestrian at best (24th in the NFL to be exact), but with the signing of Rivers, that would allow them to use their draft picks on their offensive line. With an improved offensive line and a passing attack that finished first in the NFL in yards per game last year, Philip Rivers could be in a position to have a career year in Tampa.
Signing with the Dolphins is another option, as the former Buc Ryan Fitzpatrick took the majority of the snaps this past year for Miami, but the Dolphins have also been tied to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Rivers could still be signed as a temporary bridge to Tua, as Tagovailoa might be held out of the 2020 season by his hip injury, but he would be playing for a team that is very much in a rebuild, regardless of their quarterback situation. Rivers might prefer to play for a team in win-now mode.
As for the Bucs’ defense, they have a lot of holes in the front 7, with the only defensive lineman under contract for the 2020 season being Vita Vea, but resigning the NFL’s reigning sack leader Shaquil Barrett and veteran leader Ndamukong Suh will be a top priority after figuring out the quarterback situation. If the Bucs are able to bring them both back, they should be set to use their draft picks to fill the voids left by Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib and Beau Allen, or maybe even venture into free agency for cheaper options.
Rivers would be coming into a good situation, and the Bucs would be getting a solid veteran quarterback who could become even better under Bucs coach Bruce Arians. Arians’ success in Arizona with Carson Palmer could be looked at as a good comparison. Both Palmer and Rivers have had moderate success without Arians, but Palmer went to Arizona and lead an explosive offense that ended up going to the NFC Championship. Maybe Rivers can do the same thing in Tampa. Plus, Arians isn’t exactly a young buck. He may not want to have to sit around and wait on a young quarterback to develop. Going with Rivers could satisfy his want for an experienced guy, and maybe even bring the Bucs out of their long, dreadful playoff drought.