Former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik thinks it’s time for the Bucs to move on from Jameis Winston if the 26-year old quarterback wants more than the $20.92 million he earned during his fifth-year option season in 2019. Winston is coming off a season in which he threw for career highs in yards (5,109) and touchdowns (33), but also interceptions (30) and pick-sixes (seven). Winston is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 unless the Bucs re-sign him.
“I would be surprised if they pay him,” Dominik said in an exclusive interview with PewterReport.com at the 2020 Senior Bowl. “Maybe they will. It’s their decision, but I would be shocked if the Bucs franchised Winston – or transitioned him. I think the decision they have is certainly difficult because there has been some production there, but I don’t know how you could justify paying Jameis Winston more money this year than he made last year.
“You have 30-plus touchdowns, but you also have 30 interceptions. I don’t think that the market is there for that. If I’m Jameis’ camp, I would just be thankful to receive an offer from the Bucs around $20 – $22 million for one year. That would be intriguing on a one-year deal to see if he can get (the turnovers) fixed.”
Winston became just the eighth QB in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season, but he also became the league’s first passer to throw for at least 30 TDs and 30 INTs in the same year, and he lead the league in interceptions by nine. Winston’s seven pick-sixes were also the most in NFL history for a single season.
Dominik, who now works for NFL Sirius Radio after working for the Buccaneers from 1995-2013, has some experience in this area as he spent a first-round pick on a quarterback who didn’t pan out. Dominik’s first-ever draft pick when he took over as Tampa Bay’s general manager in 2009 was Josh Freeman, the 17th overall selection that year out of Kansas State. Freeman broke several Tampa Bay passing records in four years as a starter before bombing during his fifth-year option. Dominik and former head coach Greg Schiano cut Freeman in 2013 and started Mike Glennon, the team’s third-round pick that year, before both men were fired at the end of that season.
Nearly a decade later, Winston broke all of Freeman’s records and is Tampa Bay’s all-time leading passer and touchdown producer, but his 88 interceptions and 31 fumbles in five years will cause general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians to weigh all the team’s options before deciding to either offer Winston a contract extension or use the franchise or transition tag on him prior to the start of free agency on March 16.
“Free agency – who’s available. What’s behind door number two?” Arians said in his post-season press conference on December 30. “That’s the first question. As you evaluate for the draft, that’s another question. Are they better than what you have? And then you evaluate and that’s when you make your decisions.”
Dominik noted that there are several quality free agent quarterbacks this year, including Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers, New England’s Tom Brady and New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater, who went 5-0 as the Saints’ starter this year while Brees was injured. Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill is the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year, and he’s slated to become a free agent, while Cincinnati veteran Andy Dalton will also likely be available as the Bengals are poised to select LSU’s Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“Now for Tampa, is the grass greener?” Dominik said. “It’s a weird year for quarterbacks. Rarely do you see this many quarterbacks who have experience that have potential for you that aren’t in the draft that you could actually add to your football team. Some of these veteran ones have you thinking, ‘I’m not sure what he’s going to do’ – but it opens up even more opportunity for you if you’re the Bucs so that you don’t have to pay Jameis.
“I think Brees goes back to New Orleans, but the last I checked, Rivers moved to Florida. We’ll see what happens with Brady, but those are some very interesting names. And we’ll see what happens with Teddy Bridgewater. What could Teddy do with a Chris Godwin, a Mike Evans, a Cam Brate and an O.J. Howard? Tampa is a team that you want to play quarterback for because of the skill players. I think it’s more supply and demand right now, and the Bucs should do their due diligence. Everybody wants Tampa to win, and every once in a while you see glimpses of the Bucs taking the next step, but then it ends in frustration. I would do as much research as I could as to what is out there and I wouldn’t be afraid to move in a different direction if a better option presented itself.”
Dominik said that what Brady decides to do, whether it be re-signing with New England at age 42 or parting ways with the Patriots after 20 years will start the domino effect at the quarterback position in free agency. If Brady becomes available, Dominik said the Bucs have to pursue the greatest quarterback of all time at all costs.
“If Tom Brady is available you don’t even think twice about,” Dominik said. “I would take him in two seconds if I’m Tampa.”