The conundrum of deciding what to do with a quarterback that statistically put up MVP-type numbers in some categories, yet also threw 30 interceptions continues for the Bucs’ brass. Do the Buccaneers sign Jameis Winston to a long-term deal, offer up the franchise tag, or even let him walk in free agency?

That is the decision the Glazer family, head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Jason Licht are presumably still trying to figure out nearly a month after the end of the 2019 season.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Players tend to have each other’s backs, particularly when they share a locker room, but what did opposing players have to say about what the Bucs should do with Winston in 2020?

A handful of Pro Bowl players went on the record to say they believe Winston deserves to be back in Tampa Bay for at least one more year.

Cardinals safety Budda Baker, who faced Winston and the Bucs this past season, shared his thoughts on Winston’s future in Tampa Bay.

“That is above my pay grade,” Baker said. “But I believe he is a great quarterback. It was his first year in the system – in B.A.’s system. Give him another shot. Give him another year and see what he can do. He’s been throwing for crazy yards, it has just been the turnovers. But another year with B.A. and I think he will do a lot better.”

Lions cornerback Darius Slay also got to see first hand what Winston can do on the field as the Buccaneers beat the Lions last December in a game that Winston threw for over 450 yards.

“It (throwing for 5,109 yards) tells you he has a strong arm and he can throw the ball,” Slay said. “5,000 yards? He’s no slouch. He just had bad reads at times. And forces a lot of stuff in there. But he is a great talent and to throw for over 5,000 yards, that’s no accident. It’s not a question what the Bucs have to do. All you have to do is teach him to not throw the ball to the other players. It’s real simple. Other than that, he’ll be good.”

A player who may have a little bias towards Winston is Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who played with him at Florida State for one season.

Viking RB Dalvin Cook – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
Viking RB Dalvin Cook – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR

“Yeah I would bring him back, but I can’t tell them (Buccaneers) what to do,” Cook said. “Jameis knows if he doesn’t turn the ball over like he did, I think he will be one of the best in the game. I still think he is one of the best in the game. I think Jameis will only get better. He is still a young player, and as person I love him and as a player I love him. I feel like he is getting better.”

Cardinals Pro Bowl outside linebacker Chandler Jones didn’t want to play general manager, but offered up his thoughts from what he has seen and what he knows about Winston.

“Jameis is a strong quarterback, and he throws the ball well and has a strong arm,” Jones said. “What I admire about him the most is, he stands in the pocket even with guys rushing him, he will stand in there strong and throw the ball. He led the NFL in passing yards, right? People can talk about the negatives, but what about the positives? He led the NFL is passing yards. That is huge. Over guys like Drew Brees, Tom Brady – all these guys here in the Pro Bowl? He had a good year and solid season. Hats off to him, but I’m not a G.M. I am just a pass rusher.”

One Pro Bowl quarterback PewterReport.com spoke with didn’t want to go on record to discuss Winston, but did bring up the positives and the negatives.

“Honestly, I haven’t studied him enough, but on the outside his numbers were great – other than the interceptions. But it was his first year with Bruce, right? That’s a tough call. But he is a talented player. No question.”

Three of Winston’s 30 interceptions came against the Colts in a late season win at Raymond James Stadium. Linebacker Darius Leonard had two of those three interceptions on the afternoon, but despite the turnovers, Winston led the Bucs to a 38-35 victory, throwing for 458 yards and four touchdowns, with much of it coming after breaking a bone in his thumb in the second quarter.

Colts LB Darius Leonard
Colts LB Darius Leonard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“You know what you didn’t say? All of his touchdowns. He is a great quarterback and a lot of you all (in the media) don’t give him enough credit,” Leonard said. “Yes, he throws interceptions, but what quarterback doesn’t? You can look at a lot of the Hall of Fame quarterbacks and they had years where they threw 25 or more interceptions. He is a great quarterback and has been nothing but great since coming into the league. You all need to give him his respect.”

Jaguars defensive tackle Calais Campbell knows Arians well, having played for him in Arizona. And Campbell has also played against Winston a number of times, including this past season when the Bucs won at Jacksonville.

“One thing that makes Jameis special is he has a short-term memory, and that’s a special thing,” Campbell said. “He is still a fairly young, but to throw for 5,000 yards? That is incredible. And his touchdowns are incredible. But you have to take care of the ball. He has to keep working on it. But who is better (that is available)? You never know what a rookie is going to do. You can go get a rookie, but they are unproven.

“If you can go get someone better – then great. But how many people are better? But I like him and if it were me I would bring him back. But that is just me. And I love B.A. and he is one of the most real and blunt (coaches) and he will tell you exactly how he feels. A lot of that is to motivate guys. And I think they will have a good relationship going forward. But it is the (coaches) job to find someone better if they can. If they can find a player better than Jameis then it is their duty to do that. But at the same time, Jameis is still there with those numbers.”

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]

15 COMMENTS

  1. If I was a player for another team I would want Jameis to be back with the Bucs. Other teams just love QB’s who throw a lot of interceptions.

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    • Why would you give this a thumbs down ? If playing defensive back against the bucs wouldn’t you think Winston gives the best chance to get a pick or two! That’s been proven

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    • If that were the case they would suggest a team in their division picks him up.

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    • You are an ass clown. The Team/Players that gave an opinion are not Teams that will play the Bucs next year.

      I understand that his turnover propensity has you maybe not wanting him as your QB or the fact that you may just want to be a hater but don’t make ignorant comments that show a lack of knowledge.

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  2. Calais Campbell to Bucs this offseason, count on it, he may be cut and I wouldn’t be surprised

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  3. To be fair, I don’t think you’re going to find one active player dis another active player on the record. But, signing Jameis to a one-year contract (if not a cheaper long term deal) and drafting a possible replacement makes perfect sense. Everyone who want Jameis gone hasn’t presented a better plan IMO. Any new QB in this system is going to take a year to get used to it anyways?

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    • Agree with not speaking ill about other employees, especially with the possibility that he could become your QB in the future (players get traded, sign FA contracts with other teams, and QBs could also follow the same fate).

      As for the “Any new QB in this system is going to take a year to get used to it anyways?” is a patently false idea. One simply needs to find a QB who is already knowledgeable and proficient in a vertical offense. Arians used his version of the vertical offense this year, but, in truth, the Bucs have been utilizing a vertical offense since 2017 under Koetter. That was the year the Bucs signed FA WR Djax as well as drafted TE Howard and WR Godwin.

      2019 was the third iteration of a vertical offense in Tampa, but it was 2018 that produce more yards in the air between two QBs, Fitzpatrick and Winston.

      A veteran QB with a big arm can thrive in this offensive system immediately. A rookie may need a year of growing pains to adapt, not only to the offensive set, but also the speed of the game.

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      Rating: +5. From 7 votes.
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      • Other than the fact that they use vertical routes, Arians offense is very, very different from Koetters. There were no option routes in Koetter’s offense, and Arians’ offense has multiple option routes on every play. Arians’ route trees are therefore much more complex than Koetters relatively simple routes. Because of the option routes, Arians offense requires the QB to throw to more “spots” where the receiver should end up as opposed to simply throwing to a receiver who is “open.” This puts more of a premium on the QB and the receivers being on the same page. As Carson Palmer talked about it is not just the QB getting use to the offense, but the passing game as a unit getting use to the offense. It will absolutely take significant time for a veteran QB to come in here and get on the same page with the receivers.

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  4. Interesting read.

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  5. As expected, pro bowl players were complimentary of Winston after leading the NFL in passing and finishing second in touchdowns. They also mentioned it was only Winston’s first year in Arians complex system and that seemed to matter in their minds.

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    Rating: +28. From 44 votes.
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  6. I don’t know a single Buc fan who does not have a love/hate relationship with Jameis. I can’t even count the number of my niece’s soft teddy bears I have thrown at my TV set when watching his mistakes. But Campbell said it best, Who ya gonna get? Who out there is better? Perhaps Bridges? I just gotta believe Arians thinks he can turn Jameis around with another yr in his system. Franchise him for one more yr at least.

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  7. None of those players said anything different then what we all have been saying. The 5000 yards, the TD’s, if he could only not turn the ball over. And the beat goes on, or how about, should I stay, or should I go. I believe that was the Kinks, correct me if I’m wrong. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the Jameis Winston story. Maybe coming to a stadium near you! We’ll be talking about this till March, so make your own analogies up.

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    • “Should I stay or should I go now” is a song by The Clash.

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    • What they DID say was that it was his first year in BA’s system and they recognize it is not easy. They ALSO said that they would bring him back.

      What NONE of the folks who say he should be gone have come up with a viable option if he wasn’t retained. BA wants to win now. If a new QB comes in then they will have the same learning curve in his down the field offense.

      We need to be pragmatic about this…

      Go Bucs!!

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  8. “Stay” is a song by David Bowie. “The beat goes on “was sung by Sonny and Cher.

    Keeping Jameis or letting him go is not a “trivial” matter. :>)

    I expect the Bucs to bring him back one way or another. I HOPE they also have a Plan B. This would be finding a QB with a decent long ball and who is a decent game manager.

    In BA I trust.

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