As the 2020 offseason is in full swing, it appears the marriage between Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is nearing its end. It’s for the best.
Sometimes in life, no matter how hard you try to make things work, it’s best to take your lumps and move on. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston would be wise to do so.
NBC Sports’ Peter King reports that it is “likely” Winston finds himself on another team in 2020. In the same breath, King also stated he “doubts sincerely” that the turnover-prone quarterback would be a starter in 2020 if he leaves. That alone highlights how frustrating it is to look at Winston’s tenure in Tampa Bay and how it may end soon.
Since being picked fifth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, Winston’s posted a 28-42 record. In five seasons with the Bucs, he’s thrown for 121 touchdowns and a whopping 88 interceptions. His reputation as a high-risk, high-reward player couldn’t have been truer in 2020, as he led the league in yards with over 5,000 but also in interceptions with 30. He also fumbled 12 times.
You read that correctly: 30 interceptions. There were many points throughout the season where Winston made decisions that made even non-Buccaneers fans scratch their heads in confusion and disappointment. Head coach Bruce Arians is notorious for his complex offensive schemes so that plays in Winston’s favor moving forward, but it can only partially explain why he was so careless with the football.
Winston’s problems don’t seem capable of being fixed by a coach. He has all the physical talent in the world — able to evade defenders in the pocket and extend plays outside it. His arm is undeniably strong, allowing him to make pretty much any throw possible.
The downside: He thinks he can fit any ball into any window, even nonexistent ones.
It hasn’t been due to a lack of surrounding pieces, either. Winston has been provided with some decent weapons over the years. Wide receiver Mike Evans continues to be one of the most underrated players at his position, putting up at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his six seasons in the league.
The closest Tampa Bay has gotten to the postseason with Winston under center was a 9-7 2016 season. The team hasn’t made the playoffs in over a decade. It would be easy to slap a franchise tag on their quarterback, see if he lowers his INT total in year six and go from there. With a developing defense, maybe he can win with the team he has.
On the other hand, NFL quarterbacks are what they are six years into their careers. Jameis Winston has always been prone to turnovers and poor decision-making, even dating back to his college days. Sticking with him and things not working out could set Tampa Bay back longer than necessary if they had otherwise ended their tumultuous relationship with the talented, yet flawed quarterback.
It’s fair. It’s right. It’s in the best interest of everyone involved.