Former NFL executive and Hall off Famer Bill Polian was pacing the sidelines of Tropicana Field this week, watching the players at the East-West Shrine Bowl attempt to improve their draft stock.
PewterReport.com caught up with Polian, who drafted Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, to talk about the Buccaneers and their looming decision about what to do with quarterback Jameis Winston, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after spending five years in Tampa Bay.
Polian said that Winston could improve his stock as well – by sticking around under head coach Bruce Arians for another year. Winston led the league in passing with 5,109 yards and was second with 33 touchdowns, but his 30 interceptions were the most in the NFL in 2019.
“No, there wasn’t [any middle ground with Winston’s play last year], at least from my perspective,” Polian said. “I haven’t talked to Bruce in detail about it and he’s the guy that knows the best. Everyone else is a distant second. Free agency is what it is. You’ve got to work your way through it. Obviously, the agent’s involved, the player’s involved, there’s a free market but you can deal with that accordingly. You have the tags available.
“I think one thing that Jameis has to think about is the growth that he’s had with Bruce and with Byron [Leftwich] and Clyde [Christensen] this year. Another year of that probably puts him at another level as a quarterback.”
Former NFL exec Bill Polian – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
Polian and Arians worked together for a time in Indianapolis and the two have remained friends. Polian liked what he saw from the Bucs in their first season under Arians.
“Listen, they go 7-9 in the transition year, that’s a step in the right direction – a big step in the right direction,” Polian said. “I just spent time talking with Todd [Bowles] and he’s got a firm hand on what they need to do defensively and where they need to build. I’m sure Bruce feels the same way about the offense. The biggest issue is the quarterback, but they’ll deal with that accordingly and Bucs fans should feel really good about where they are.”
A recent article from SI.com debated if teams can win Super Bowls with quarterback salaries taking up such large amounts of the team’s salary cap space. But Polian said a team can still win championships even with a high-priced triggerman under center.
“They come up with these statements that really aren’t true,” Polian said. “Percentage of the cap. They used to say, ‘Well, 20 percent of the cap,’ but we won a Super Bowl with Peyton. Denver won a Super Bowl with Peyton. So that’s not true. It’s just simply not true so put that aside. You make choices about where you want to put your resources. That has to do with the talent at hand, what it’s paid, and what the scheme is. All of that goes into it and to make these blanket statements, ‘Well, you’re better off with a rookie quarterback so you can do everything else because he doesn’t really get paid yet.’ That’s like the first page of a 500-page book. Let’s go on from there, but there’s much more to it than that.”
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, the beach and family time.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]
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