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    Is Philip Rivers headed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Jacob Eason as his backup?

    Rumors are starting to swirl that Philip Rivers and the Chargers are headed for a breakup. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have emerged as an early favorite to land the veteran QB. Plus, who is Tampa Bay looking at in the 2020 NFL Draft?

    With news that Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and his family have moved out of their Southern Los Angeles home, questions have begun to arise regarding his future. It has been fueled by Rivers’ remarks at the end of the 2019 season when he said that he was open to playing for another team besides the Chargers. With no talk of a contract extension, the organization seems to be as open to moving on as he is. With Rivers and his family moving to Florida to be closer to relatives, dots connecting the 38-year-old quarterback and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have emerged. 

    Pro Football Network’s NFL Insider Ben Allbright confirms that there has been an increasing amount of chatter coming from the 2020 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama regarding Rivers and the Buccaneers. If that is the case, it would signal the end of the 16-year relationship between Rivers and the Chargers. This reinforces what PFN Draft Analyst Tony Pauline mentioned during his Week 11 College Football Live Blog.

    “People familiar with the situation tell me 2020 will be different and the Chargers will address the quarterback position in the early rounds.” 

    Allbright is also reporting that the Buccaneers have been showing a good amount of interest in Washington Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason, who recently declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. After finishing 7-9, the Buccaneers will select 14th overall in the first round. And for the Chargers? Allbright reports that they are taking a hard look at selecting Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert with their first-round pick.

    The rift between Rivers and the Chargers grows

    Coming into the 2019 season, the Chargers were a dark horse Super Bowl contender. With a plethora of talent on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, many expected the team to push the Kansas City Chiefs for the best record in the AFC West. Ultimately, Rivers regressed with a mediocre season and the team suffered a number of key injuries.

    The Chargers finished the year with a 5-11 record, which was their third losing season in the past five years. Despite completing 66-percent of his passes for 4,615 yards and 23 touchdowns, Rivers also threw 20 picks and was sacked 34 times.

    Even though Rivers had a tough year, his career numbers are impressive. He holds the franchise’s passing records in yards (57,825), touchdowns (389), passer rating (95.0), and is ninth in all-time wins with 122. Unfortunately, the Chargers have still only made the playoffs once in the last five seasons.

    Pro Football Network first heard of a potential split with Rivers and the Chargers back in December when Allbright reported that the team could be interested in Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton or another veteran quarterback such as Marcus Mariota. 

    Eason becoming a legitimate NFL prospect

    The Huskies season was quite a roller coaster. They had impressive moments, like their Las Vegas Bowl victory over Boise State, and some disappointing ones, like their loss to the Utah Yutes. They finished the year 8-5 overall.

    In his first season as the starter, Eason performed as well as can be expected. He finished the season completing 64.2 percent of his throws for 3,132 yards, with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. 

    It was believed that with the amount of competition in this year’s draft, Eason would be returning for another year with Washington. Pauline discussed in his December mailbag why it would be better for Eason to remain at Washington.

    “Eason, at this point, scares me and has huge downside – too much inconsistency and too small of a body of work. It may be enticing for him to enter the draft if he gets a second-round grade from the advisory committee, but returning for another year on the college field and getting more experience is probably best for his long-term outlook in the NFL.”

    Instead, Eason decided to declare. There are enough NFL teams that are hungry for quarterback talent that he believed it was in his best interest to try to make it to the NFL now.

    “I want to thank everyone at UW — my teammates, the coaching staff and the fans — for making these last two years so memorable,” Eason said in a release. “I’m very happy that I was able to come home and play for the Dawgs, and will always be grateful.”

    In his most recent mock draft, Pauline slated Eason in the second round, being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 45th overall. This would give the head coach Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers a developmental quarterback, who can learn from Rivers for at least a season or two. However, if Eason is able to impress NFL scouts during his predraft workouts, they may need to consider trading up to select him earlier.

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