As you would expect a majority of the questions submitted for the Mailbag were about the quarterback issues of Jameis Winston and what the team does moving forward following Tampa Bay’s 37-34 defeat in Cincinnati.

Question: Is the Jameis Winston situation bad enough for the Bucs to look to draft his replacement? Or use Ryan Griffin/Fitzpatrick for next year?

Answer: It is nearly impossible to get into the heads of Dirk Koetter, Jason Licht or even the Glazers at this point. They are fresh off a game in which the supposed franchise quarterback, fourth-year starter Jameis Winton, threw four interceptions and nearly single-handedly cost the Bucs the game. And there are just too many unknowns right now, including how the rest of the season plays out and who the coach and general manager are next year if the Glazers decide to replace Koetter and Licht.

Even if Koetter and Licht stay, drafting a quarterback would seem like a strong possibility. Maybe not a first-rounder though. The top quarterbacks are drafted in the Top 10 usually, at this point the Bucs may not be close enough to that position to draft one. If the plan is to play Fitzpatrick the rest of the season, and this team flirts with .500 then they will be in picking in the 15-20 range in the first round.

But I think we are still far away from team making up their mind what to do Winston. There is no deadline or incentive to make a decision any time soon. While it appears a majority of the fans have given up on Winston, I don’t believe the team feels that way. Not 100 percent anyway. Are they questioning him leading this team in the future? You bet, but it is way too premature to think the organization is ready to walk away.

Question: Now that Jameis isn’t the “guy,” does Jason Licht get fired since he hand-picked Winston?

Answer: More depends on how the season plays out. As Scott Reynolds pointed out, that Ryan Fitzpatrick is also technically Jason Licht’s guy. He signed him as a free agent two years ago and brought him back this past offseason. If Fitzpatrick somehow can save this season, and that is assuming Winston is benched all year, then everyone comes back next season with Fitzpatrick at the helm. Except … Fitzpatrick is an unrestricted free agent, and if he does rally this team to the playoffs, there will be more than the Bucs who want him under center next season.

Your question is actually a case made to play Winston though. If Dirk Koetter and Licht feel that they are gone after this year because of the decision to draft Jameis Winston, then they are going to roll him out the rest of the year. It is essentially their “get out of jail free card.” They would be gambling that somehow the turnovers stop and Winston all of sudden becomes that player you expected him to be in his fourth season. But again, if they think that their own personal fortunes are tied to Winston and giving up on him now is going to cost them their job, then you better believe Winston starts the rest of the season.

Question: Well, do you honestly think the Bucs pick up Jameis “turnover king” Winston’s option and are there any QBs in draft Bucs could take?

Answer: As previously mentioned, with nine games left in the season, it is way too early to tell. As I mentioned above their are a couple of Catch-22 scenarios that come into play here. If all things were even, and the front office and staff knew they would be back next season regardless of how 2018 ends up, then maybe you could say the team moves on from Winston. But with so many jobs and careers tied to this season they could be forced to play him. Then what if he turns it around, goes .500 down the stretch and the turnovers stop?

The Bucs have to draft someone for the long-term if Winston isn’t the guy. Looking at the last 15 Super Bowl winners, all but Drew Brees and Peyton Manning with Denver were drafted and developed by the team who walked away with the Lombardi Trophy. The last true free agent quarterback (other than Manning) to win a Super Bowl was Brad Johnson with the Bucs back in 2002. Finding guys on the street and expecting to win championships with them is as rare as a pink unicorn who speaks fluent French and can juggle chainsaws.

Question: If Fitz goes down do you give Ryan Griffin the ball?

Answer: If the Bucs do plan on walking away from Jameis Winston, then yes, he would essentially be demoted to third-string, as an injury would leave you on the hook for $20 million in 2019. Ryan Griffin would then back up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bucs have picked up Winston’s fifth-year option, but it is only guaranteed due to an injury. A lot will be known about Winston’s future with the team once the staff makes a decision on who starts next week and the depth chart moving forward. If I had to guess, it will be Fitzpatrick under center and Winston as the No. 2 in Carolina this Sunday.

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

22 COMMENTS

  1. Trade him or release him now, if he gets hurt in practice you owe him 20 million next year , and cap damage of losing 2 high priced players for next year
    who you want the Bucs to lose to keep this clown around ?
    Which 2 high payed players do Bucs want to lose ???????
    Who could be brought in with cap space?
    Think about the ups and downs of this decision.
    Only way Dirk and Jason keep there jobs if Fitz bails them out.
    Winston is done it is over he is damaged goods clear the locker space up for someone else. now!
    ASAP today make the calls see if any one on other teams is stupid enough to trade for him.

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    Rating: +21. From 27 votes.
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  2. You have to remember, besides his play on the field Winston has the baggage of off-field issues as well. He had to play well to get the team to consider keeping him around. He hasn’t. The team may not have given up on him but his chances of success are greatly reduced at this point. How many great quarterbacks do any of us know who have regressed as much as Winston has and succeeded? Only one comes to mind. Steve Young with a terrible Buc team around him his first two years and was a terrible QB – which fully came to bear with his trade to the 49ers. Many years later he succeeded in San Francisco.

    So the team may not have given up on Winston, but reality is since he has learned nothing since he started despite all the coaching he has had, the odds of him suddenly learning how to make good decisions under pressure on the field are incredibly low (I can only think of Steve Young being the only QB who has pulled this off). Josh Freeman is another QB that never really developed (except for one season) into a workable QB. Winston may just be the next to join the list of first round QB failures (but the fact that Mariotta is not working out either will make that class a total failure).

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  3. Mark…Has Winston ever looked as good in any game as Fitz did yesterday ? Do you agree that the players seem to be more focused when Fitz is in the game and playing with more intensity?

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    Rating: +16. From 18 votes.
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    • No. He looked about like Fitz in the Kansas City game two years ago. File this under anybody can have a bad day. But of course, you already knew this and there is always somebody forgiving as the Bucs hired Fitz the following year. lol.

      https://www.sbnation.com/2016/9/25/13052032/ryan-fitzpatrick-interceptions-jets-chiefs

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      Rating: +1. From 7 votes.
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      • The ole gunslinger shot himself in the foot right after he shot his team chances of winning.

        No surprise. I do appreciate the history lesson on HOF QB INT’s during the first 3 years though!

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  4. We can jaw on this til the cows come home, but Licht and Koeeter, and quite likely the baby Glazers, have a decision to make now, and they will make it, probably some time this week.

    Why on earth would any team want to have on their roster a quarterback who singlehandedly loses games, is extremely divisive for the fan base, being intensely disliked by all but his staunchest Seminlole fans, and have to pay him a cap busting $21M? In what universe does that outcome make any sense at all. The trajectory is set, Winston is who he is, which is what he always was. Licht and the baby Glazers gambled, and lost. Either the sunk cost fallacy prevails, or the owners, at least, move on.

    And no, Licht does not get credit for hiring Fitz. GMs are given the rare opportunit to make a no. 1 overall pick, and they are judged mainly on that pick when they make it. But even moreso, even with a bad pick at no. 1 overall in a single draft year, Licht has made tons of bad decisions that cumulatively over five years of running this franchise, has run what used to be the essence of the Bucs franchise, its former Hall of Fame defense, right into the ground like a lawn dart.

    That last part is completely unforgiveable.

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    Rating: +16. From 20 votes.
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    • Naples, I am a die hard Noles fan and the reality here is that even us Noles fans are fed up with it.

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      Rating: +10. From 10 votes.
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  5. Mark,

    It seems to me that the uber thing and the 3 match suspension seemed to knock the wind out of Jameis. He seems deflated. What o you think and do you think this is impacting his performance?

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    Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
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    • I think its all in his head. Physically he is extremely talented but mentally he lacks the ability to be an elite QB. His ability to read defenses and his decision making process seems to be slow. Maybe he is just young and hasn’t developed mentally to the NFL level but you would think after 4 years he would have developed by now.

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      Rating: +6. From 6 votes.
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  6. Everything has been bungled from the start. Lovie Smith was fired then replaced by a guy who didn’t earn the job. Licht reported to Lovie Smith. The whole thing has been dysfunctional from day 1. Winston deserves a lot of blame but the whole regime needs to go and we need new people, professional football people not this set of buffoons to evaluate the roster and decide what to do. Winston will be here next year. Koetter and Licht will not. Mark that down. The Glazers are going to try to salvage Winston. Bet on it, Call Dungy and offer him total control as GM> let him hire the new coach and build the team the right way.

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    Rating: +2. From 20 votes.
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    • No, Winston will not be on the Bucs roster next season, most likely. Cannot afford to piss away $21M on a player who loses games and loses seasons and most importantly, loses fans and dollars for the owners.

      They gambled, they lost. Time to move on.

      I don’t believe anybody else in the NFL will pay Winston $21M next year either. Most likely outcome is either we trade him to a team that forces him to renegotiate his contract, or he gets cut and then tries to get a contract at a much lower price. He might be worth $8-10M as a starter on a really needy team, or half that or less as a backup on another team.

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      Rating: +11. From 15 votes.
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      • To be far Mariota hasn’t lived up to expectations it was just not a great draft class that year so it wasn’t that much of gamble but a weak hand.

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        Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
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      • The problem with this and everyone saying dump Jameis. Who are you going to get next year? Fitz is playing well but lets not pretend we are going to sign him to a 20million dollar deal. There are no QBs coming out next year worth a damn either. And Jameis has played like shit for the record. He should be benched and as one of his staunchest supporters, hes playing the worst hes ever played and I fully support starting fitz next game.But again ,what exactly are the alternatives?

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  7. They have no identity. No heart. Nothing to play for. Thats the whole team not just Winston. Its a joke. The coaches, the drafting, the kicking debacle from Aguayao to the present. it all needs to go!

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    Rating: +3. From 9 votes.
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  8. I know one thing Bucs better hire someone to direct this franchise. Glazers just keep floundering and fans are so sick of all the regime changes. Some fans are thrilled about Winston having that horrible game so what we can finally fire him and possibly move on. Fire coach, and GM again too. Yay, thats awesome! that will set us back years again but hey it’s what Bucs do now for well over a decade. Fitz isn’t the answe either I doubt seriously he can string together many good games if any before looking like he did against Steelers then the Bears. Hire/fire then we are the league laughing stock again then repeat the process.

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    Rating: +1. From 7 votes.
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    • All you have to do is look at Manchester United. They are one of the most storied soccer teams in the world and the Glazers have turned them into a mediocre franchise. They don’t care about winning. They care about how much money they make. With Man U they make more than enough off of the licensing rights. With the Bucs the TV rights and licensing brings them in plenty of money. The stadium could be half full every home game and it would have little effect on their bottom line. Putting a winning product on the field is not a priority.

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  9. Wow Bucnation is going crazy with their words. K.I.S.S. Pewter Nation podcast said this about Mike Smith and I say everyone should be saying this about our QBs….

    Start Fitzpatrick against Carolina. He gives us the best chance to win that game.

    Winston can still be the franchise QB and he can still end up starting the game after Carolina or sometime later. Or Fitzpatrick can start the rest of the year if we keep winning. But calling Winston a bust and all the chatter surrounding that… a lot of it is frivolous and pedantic.

    Koetter should start Fitzpatrick this Sunday and just stay committed to his own mantra “Every game is a must-win game.” I think it will go a long way in keeping his job for next year if he continues staying committed to that mantra.

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    Rating: -4. From 10 votes.
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    • He’s going to be locker room distraction just by being there even if tries not to be.

      It not knee jerk or panic at all, it’s Winston playing like he’s always played we are now on year 4 of seeing it. You realize what a good QB would do with this offense? If Winston was throwing the ball he would have waited too long to Evan’s when he took it to the house because to catch a Winston pass he would have had to stop.

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      Rating: -5. From 5 votes.
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      • The only person Winston is a true distraction for right now is the prima donna DeSean Jackson. Winston has not been a distraction for anyone else. Even Koetter is making the right decision with Winston this Sunday.

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        Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
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  10. What a joke that we are back to square one pretty much..wasted years of being hopeful for Jameis to succeed and it has all come down to this..im all for a new regime when the season comes to an end. Just want to win…

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  11. I watched the game and Evans is as as any receiver in the league.

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  12. If you remember, Ryan Griffin had a pretty good exhibition season. I would think that the situation now is perfect time to start grooming him for playing time. I think that he’s got potential.

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    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
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