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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chargers and QB Rivers announce he’s free agent

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Danny Medley- USA Today Sports

One of the most recognizable, gun -slinging quarterbacks in pro football is now officially a free agent come this March. And, he might end up drawing interest from at least one team in our state. This after mid-day Monday, the Chargers and 16 year veteran quarterback Philip Rivers mutually announced that he will not brought back for the 2020 season:

This announcement had been long rumored after reports that Rivers had moved his family from Southern California to Florida earlier in January after the conclusion of the 2019 season.

Rivers was emotional after the Chargers final game of the year (above), when they lost at Kansas City 31 – 21. That’s where he basically made it known that he believed his time in San Diego / Los Angeles was done.

The eight-time Pro Bowler had led the Chargers to the playoffs six previous times, including most recently two seasons ago. That’s when L.A. won 12 games in the regular season with Rivers firing 32 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. L.A. then upset the Baltimore Ravens on the road in the Wildcard round of the playoffs.

There has been much speculation as to where Rivers might end up? And, many fans and media are reading into his move to Florida as being a potential signal that he might want to try to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and noted “quarterback guru,” coach Bruce Arians.

Arians led the Arizona Cardinals to am immediate turnaround with veteran Carson Palmer, who had been given up on by the Bengals and then the Raiders, before flourishing for a couple of seasons in Arizona.

The Bucs are still trying to decide what to do with their free-agent-to-be quarterback Jameis Winston? Winston just came off his fourth losing season in five years and dubiously, became the first quarterback in NFL history to have 30 interceptions in a season where he also threw 30 touchdown passes.

As for Rivers, he has also been interception proned throughout his career. This includes six of his seasons, where he’s thrown at least 15 or more, as he did with 20 picks coming in 2019.

If the Bucs are not interested, there is also speculation that the Miami Dolphins might be.

However, Miami already has veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who performed well down the stretch of the season, including leading their dramatic last-minute drive victory at New England in week 17. The Dolphins have also hired Chan Gailey, as their new offensive coordinator, as he previously worked with Fitzpatrick as head coach of the Buffalo Bills and offensive coordinator with the New York Jets.

There are several other possible destinations for the former 2004 first-round pick out of N.C. State.

Rivers could end up potentially in Indianapolis after the abrupt retirement on the eve of last season by Andrew Luck the team might welcome the veteran Rivers to battle last year’s starter Jacoby Brissett to help get them back in the playoffs for 2020.

The Carolina Panthers may also be very interested and obviously, Rivers is from that region.

Carolina still has to decide whether they’re going to keep or release injured quarterback Cam Newton who played in only two games last season due to a foot problem? The Panthers can save over 17 million dollars by cutting Newton.

If you are wondering about Rivers’ cost, it will be an interesting QB market come March, and his last Chargers deal averaged $20 million per year with his actual salary having been $16 million for 2019.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs will put former defensive coordinator Kiffin in Ring of Honor

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs are looking forward to their future with a second year under new coach Bruce Arians, but on Friday night, they reached back to their past to honor one of their top assistant coaches in franchise history. And. this fall they will put him in their “Ring of Honor.”

Monte Kiffin, who along with coach Tony Dungy were the architects of the Buccaneers “Tampa 2” defense will become the team’s 14th member of their Ring of Honor in the 2020 season:

The Buccaneers made the announcement Friday night as Kiffin was being honored by the organization, his former players, friends and family, as part of his 80th birthday celebration.

Kiffin who came with Dungy in 1996 to the Bucs and led the defense for 13 seasons, helped Tampa Bay’s defense become one of the youngest fastest and fiercest in all of the NFL in just a few short seasons.

Led by now Hall of Famers, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, plus Hall of Fame finalists John Lynch and Ronde Barber, the Bucs defense rose to the number one in the NFL in 1999 and again, in 2002. That season, led by new coach Jon Gruden in his first year and Kiffin’s defense, Tampa Bay won their first and only World Championship cementing Kiffin’s legacy.

Kiffin left the Bucs to go coach at the University of Tennessee, when his son Lane became the head coach for one season in 2009. He then left Knoxville after that season when Lane Kiffin took the USC  job. He has spent recent years, as a defensive coach/consultant with the Cowboys and also the Jaguars.

The last couple of seasons he had been with Lane Kiffin in an advisory role at Florida Atlantic.

The Bucs have put 13 previous former players, coaches and even owner Malcolm Glazer, in their Ring of Honor. And, that list includes Sapp, Brooks Lynch and Barber, who was inducted a year ago. Kiffin will be the first assistant coach to be honored. Previously, Gruden (2017) and Dungy (2018) have also both been put in as head coaches, with the architect of the original Buccaneers, John McKay also being inducted also back in 2010.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Should RT Jack Conklin be on Bucs free agent radar?

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As NFL teams continue to do their due diligence on not only their own potential free agents, but what others might be out there too, an interesting name has emerged that could give the Bucs, and other teams, some offensive line help.

It appears that the Titans, fresh off a tremendous playoff run into the AFC Championship game may be willing to part with former number 1 pick, starting right tackle Jack Conklin. And if they’re going to let the former Michigan State star test free agency, Tampa Bay may have a real interest.

First, the Bucs are looking at options on their line, as the senior member of their roster, right tackle Demar Dotson, who’s played his entire 11 year career in Tampa and will be 35 years old this fall, is slated to be a free agent, as well.

And while Dotson has been a mainstay over the course of the last decade on the Bucs offensive line, GM Jason lick and Coach Bruce Arians maybe looking to get younger and some better play out of that position.

Tennessee elected not to pick up Conklin’s fifth year option on his rookie deal and there are some concerns about his ability to pass block. However, there’s no doubting that with power back Derrick Henry, Conklin was part of the unit on offense that played “smash mouth football” throughout the postseason. And, they scored upsets of the Patriots and the Ravens in part behind their tough ground game before falling at Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.

Next, earlier this week, NFL.com’s reporter/writer Nick Shook, matched Conklin as a possible free agent fit with Tampa Bay, as free agency begins in March.

Conklin did suffer an ACL injury in his second season but is fully healed from that now, and he could be a very cost-effective option four teams looking to solidify their offensive line. Conklin made only $2.7 million in the final year of his initial four year deal with the team declining his $12.9 million option.

As for the Bucs, they already have massive money invested in center Ryan Jensen, guard Ali Marpet and left tackle Donovan Smith on their line, but at the same time, the Bucs also have close to $85 million under the cap once free agency begins.

Clearly, their top priorities are figuring out whether to bring back QB Jameis Winston (and at what price?) and also, how many free agent to be defensive linemen out of Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre Paul and Ndamukong Suh they can also fit under their cap.

Still, you cannot have enough good lineman, and perhaps grabbing the Titans former starter off a playoff team would improve their run game, which sputtered a lot of 2019.

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