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.”
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.