When it was announced last week that the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo reached a deal that would pay an average of $27.5 million per season, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston’s agent Greg Genske probably perked up in his office and offered up a big smile.

Winston is going to get paid soon. Big time.

The No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft is coming off statistically his best season in three years in the league (completion percentage, QB rating, and yards per game) despite playing with an injured shoulder and missing three games. And while the jury is still out on if Winston is indeed a franchise quarterback that will lead the Bucs to the Super Bowl in the future, what isn’t in question is money that quarterbacks are making in the NFL.

Bucs WRs Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs WRs Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs have until May 2 to pick up Winston’s fifth-year option, which seems to be a foregone conclusion. They’ll do it.

By doing do, Tampa Bay is committing to paying Winston the average of the Top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. In 2017 that number was $21.26 million. With Graoppolo’s new deal, that number will be rising.

Winston is slated to make just over $8 million this season, which is the final year of his rookie contract. All NFL teams have the right to pick up a fifth-year option on players drafted in the first round.

The Bucs chose to do that with Mike Evans, the team’s first-round pick in 2014 who is playing on his fifth-year option and will make $13.2 million unless he and Tampa Bay can reach a long-term contract extension. In 2015 the Bucs chose to not pick up the fifth-year option for Doug Martin, the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2012, but signed him to a long-term extension in 2016.

Tampa Bay also has the option of signing Winston to a new deal before his fifth year and the Bucs seem receptive to do so if the numbers were right, although Evans, and a few others, including offensive linemen Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith and middle linebacker Kwon Alexander could take precedence before Winston’s new deal is done. Trevor Sikkema wrote on Saturday that Evans’ agent Deryk Gilmore told PewterReport.com that he and his client are in no rush to sign a new deal and are willing to play out his fifth-year option.

Scott Reynolds reported in Friday’s SR’s Fab 5 column that the Bucs want to lock up as many current players as possible and will look to do so this offseason, planning talks with offensive tackle Donovan Smith, center Ali Marpet and tight end Cameron Brate. Where Winston fits in the pecking order is yet to be seen, however the longer it takes, the more money it will take to extend Winston.

With the Garoppolo deal now in place (the total value is $137.5 million), and a new deal for Detroit’s Matthew Stafford ($135 million), in addition to former Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins hitting the free agent market next month, quarterback salaries are on the rise and the Bucs would be wise from a financial perspective to get a new deal done as soon as possible.

Winston has the resumé to be one of the top paid quarterbacks in the league. With 11,636 yards so far, Winston has the third-most yards through his first three seasons in NFL history, trailing just Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Bucs
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Bucs

When Winston does, in fact, sign a new deal, he will most likely become the highest paid quarterback in the NFC South ahead of Drew Brees ($24.25 million), Cam Newton ($20.76 million) and Matt Ryan ($20.75). While few would say Winston is the best quarterback in his division, as the other three have all led their teams to a Super Bowl appearance, it is all about timing. And the timing says the Bucs would be best to lock up Winston as soon as possible.

And one other interesting fact, when Winston signs a new contract, he will be the first Bucs drafted quarterback to earn a second contract. None of the team’s former first-round picks – Doug Williams, Vinny Testaverde, Trent Dilfer and Josh Freeman – signed a contract extension in Tampa Bay. That’s an amazing statistic from a franchise that has been around for 42 seasons.

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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]


  1. If possible the Bucs should sign Jameis to a long term extension this offseason to give themselves more flexibility moving forward.

    Rating: +10. From 16 votes.
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  2. I wish I was a fly on the wall when Donovan Smith starts his negotiations for his next contract, thinking he is the best LT in the game. I can already hear the laughter in that negotiating room.

    Rating: +3. From 17 votes.
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    • Donovan Smith is hot garbage – he needs constant chip blocks from others to survive out there. Let him, and his concrete shoes, leave

      Rating: +2. From 14 votes.
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      • I’m not sure if my original post was understood. Donovan Smith thinks he is a top LT. He and his agent will try to negotiate a new contract and ask for top LT money. Jason Licht and any other Bucs back office members will laugh in his face during this meeting. I wish to be a fly on the wall in the meeting so I could join in on the laughter.

        Rating: +1. From 13 votes.
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  3. I’ll go along with everything Mark types except for one damn little detail. Uber driver. Look, no doubt Jameis has the talent, the drive to get better, hates to lose and is a leader. When he signs his second deal he will be the Buccaneers first franchise QB. No doubt.

    But there’s no way it happens until the damn Uber driver investigation is over and Jameis is cleared. I look at it this way. If Jameis was in the back seat, it’s over. But if someone is lying, Darby or Jameis, and he was in the front seat? If he lied to the the Buccaneers (the Glazers) about it? Are they going to pay him 125 millions dollars? No, they’re not.

    I don’t think Jameis is guilty, I really don’t. But if I’m wrong this all blows up in a very bad way. What the NFL is doing dragging what should be a very simple “investigation” out is doing the Buccaneers and Jameis Winston no favors. I can’t imagine the Glazers are comfortable waiting for answers while asking fans for more money for seats in 2018 either.

    Rating: +1. From 9 votes.
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    • Maybe the Bucs should have signed him before Jimmy G. signed. One thing is for sure his son will not grow up poor.

      Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
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  4. I’m a big believer in Jameis, but don’t believe his play has warranted a max contract. Not yet anyway. He needs to be more consistent (and yes, I have issues with Dirk’s offense & lack of flexibility in play calls that make it more difficult on Jameis) over the next two years. I don’t think Licht should offer an extension until the middle or end of his 5th year. We’ll know what he is and more importantly isn’t by that point. Unfortunately the NFL landscape is completely out of control regarding paying QB’s. When Garappolo can get $74M guaranteed after only 7 starts, Jameis is going to get paid big.

    Paying a QB a massive amount per year is dangerous though. Only 7 times has a Super Bowl champion QB had a hit of 10%+ of a his teams salary cap. And those QB’s were named Young, Brady, Peyton, Eli, and Bledsoe. The first 3 are 1st ballot HOF’s. Eli got carried to his 2 rings & Brady won Bledsoe his ring. It’s hard to win a Super Bowl. It’s a lot harder when your QB has a cap hit in double digits. Better draft like geniuses the next 2 years.

    Rating: +3. From 11 votes.
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  5. Pfft he better receive Ryan Tannehill type money, a medling starter’s salary until he gets us in the playoffs…

    Rating: -6. From 14 votes.
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  6. Based on todays world he’ll receive 20-30 million per year so there’s no hurry in Winston or the Bucs coming to terms until sometime in his 5th year. My hat is off to the paying fans; I bow to you for being very loyal fans.

    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
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