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, 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]

33 COMMENTS

  1. Frickin love Bill Polian! “Who the HELL is Mel Kiper?!” LOL!

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    • Mel Kiper took some on air crap from Polian after he selected LB Trev Albert – looks like Kiper was 100% right with that one.

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    • That was Bill Tobin.

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      • Lol. Good catch! Mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be! I really do still like Polian. Great GM of all those 80’s Bills teams and late 90’s/early 00’s Colts teams.

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  2. He’s right that you can still win with an overpriced QB, it’s just that everything has to fall in place perfectly That season with newly drafted guys in certain positions, underrated grabs like Barrett and turnaround years from certain guys. That can get you there that year but it isn’t sustainable. Something has to be figured out with the Cap that makes it where you don’t have to have such a constant revolving door of players and lose guys cause you can’t afford them after a great season. Someone mentioned the way the NBA does it and that’s something that should be visited.

    The Draft should be a place where most of your talent comes from and grows from and FA should be something used to fill in spots that you are hurting at, not completely turning over a team. Drafting a great talent shouldn’t come with excitement over his first 4-5 years and then knowing you will lose him because your Cap isn’t built to be able to keep him.

    Something definitely has to change because there’s less for Fans to hang onto when the lineup is turned over so often. Yes it’s a business, but it’s a business that exists because the Fans keep watching it, and if the fans don’t enjoy it as much because the Logo is the only thing you can count on being there every year then that isn’t as interesting.

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    • I’m not privy on what someone else may have said about the NBA, but the last thing in the world any Bucs fan should want is to make the NFL like the NBA. You know, where the big-city teams pay for an all-star teams and swap the championship back and forth between them while the smaller market teams with far less money to spend act as their farm system.

      I no longer watch any NBA. Period.

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  3. Winston needs to realize.. If he wants to play with a $20m a year receiver, then he can’t make $30+ and be on a winning team. Definitely can’t play with a $20M and a $10M+ receiver with the third highest paid line. If he wants to be here and win, he can’t receive a mega deal contract. If you want to change your image, quickly, do it with this contract… and do it soon. Signing a franchise tag doesn’t make you a team guy.

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    • I completely get what you’re saying and I agree, to a point. However, these men put their physical, and mental, health on the line for our entertainment. While it’s always nice to hear about a player taking a “discount” to help the team, at the end of the day, they still need to have a nest egg to live on for their post-football lives. The kind of rehab a lot of these gentlemen require after their playing days are over is very expensive. Most of them also have families to provide for. Again, I like hearing about a guy taking a lower contract than what they could receive to help the team build a more complete product. But I also don’t harbour any ill will toward any of them for taking what they can get while they can get it. Prime example, just recently, Luke K retiring while he still has some football left in his bones so he can retain what is left of his mind

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  4. The reality is salary cap while increasing the QB salaries are increasing far too rapidly right now.

    Bucs have to make some tough decisions either way.

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  5. Pretty sure this is the same guy who has been hating on Lamar Jackson form the start so excuse me if I take his judgment with a grain of salt.

    That being said, I think he is right on this one.

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  6. My priorities in order are: keeping the Defense together, O-line, extending Godwin, then QB. I think we can win now with a QB who is much less dynamic but who through turnovers does not give the other team 10-15 points per game. We don’t need to score 30 points per game if one player isn’t giving the opposition double digits points every game. Winston is dynamic and talented, no doubt, I just don’t think we will win consistently with his turnovers.

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    • Bucnut, 100% agree!!

      Brad Johnson threw for 3000 yards 22 tds and 6 INTS in 2002!! He had a great defense and a human wrecking ball in Alstott.

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  7. Wow. First Carson Palmer and now Bill Polian. Two people with great insight who believe in Winston and Arians. Really good sign. Go Bucs!

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  8. 2015 15 INTS were going to fix Jameis and he will be great
    2016 18 Ints ops were going to fix Jameis and he will be great
    2017 11 Ints were going to fix Jameis and he will be great
    2018 14 Ints were going to fix Jameis and he will be great
    2019 hey we have a QB whisperer ” 30 ” 30 30 30 Ints were going to fix Jameis and he will be great
    2020 were going to fix Jameis and he will be great
    never mind the league-leading lost fumbles
    Morons !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  9. But these message board nerds say Winston sucks. They’ve built teams, won GM of the year awards… in their dreams.

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  10. The only other person that I can think of who was a better all-time GM talent evaluator is Ozzie Newsome. I’d like to hear his thoughts.

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  11. As I get ready to watch NFC championship game tomorrow in my media room with nice with an LG – 86″ Class – LED , I think back to last time I watched Bucs in NFC championship game.

    I had a Panasonic 29″ glass bubble as thick as it was wide with a couch as uncomfortable as they come. And you on Pewter wonder why I get so angry at the con job the Glazers play on us every year!
    All of you wanting to bring back Jameis the Bust and waste one of the few years Bruce Arians have left!

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    • And I’ll bet the two TV’s cost the same.

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  12. Is this the same Polian who claimed Lamar Jackson would be garbage at QB, and would be better suited as a receiver?

    Then double downed on his assertion by not giving him an All-Pro nod?

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    • Probably true… But, then again no one thought that Lamar was QB worthy. They all wanted him to play WR. Except, of course, Ozzie Newsome.

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  13. I think they end up keeping Winston, but they have to have another option in the event Winston is simply no better than 7 or 8 wins because he continues to turn the ball over.

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  14. I agree with Polian. There are many ways to win in this league. KC is going to get to the super bowl without a running game or great defense. San Fran without elite receivers or an elite qb.
    You make choices where you want to put resources.

    In 2018 teams in the NFL playoffs had elite passing:
    NE 8th best
    LA Rams 5th
    KC 3rd
    NO 12th
    Indy 6th
    Philly 7th

    People suggested that we had to draft a tackle last year. The Buc’s did not. Instead we drafted Devin White, Jamal Dean, SMB, and Mike Edwards and improved this team.

    Name an elite offensive tackle from last year. Both the Athletic and PFF gave their all rookie tackle spot to Jawaan Taylor who had 15 penalties and 8 sacks allowed. We saw him fail against the Buc’s.

    Let’s wait to see who we re-sign and draft to determine how well we do going forward.

    P.S. Last years good draft for the Buc’s does not forgive the 2016 draft where our GM took a replacement level cornerback with the 11th pick and then traded up in the 2nd round to get a kicker. Ouch.

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  15. If Bucs take another DB with the first or 2nd pick I am going to have a heart attack.

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    • I also hope we do not take one in the 1st or 2nd round either.
      But I would say that this is a passing league and the days of just having two solid corners and you are set are gone. Three corners play 70 percent of the snaps so you need at least three good ones.

      Further, across the league – corner is a position where guys miss games. So you need a fourth as well to account for injuries happening. Take a look at the New England model and how many corners they keep trying to acquire all of the time. They have had good corners yet they draft new ones in the draft a lot of years.

      NE Draft
      2015 Safety in 2nd
      2016 CB in 2nd (their 1st pick of the draft)
      2017 no DB’s
      2018 CB in 2nd and 7th, and free agent rookie J.C. Jackson. (Jackson 2 years and 8 interceptions as free agent signee)
      2019 CB in 2nd (not Greedy Williams) and 7th again.

      Passing league – just saying.

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    • Doesn’t Green Bay also run a 3-4 defense.
      Their recent drafts:
      2019 Safety 1st round
      2018 CB in 1st and 2nd
      2017 CB in 2nd round

      Not a lot of win in the trenches picks with them.

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  16. Everyone loves to compare Jameis to what other QB’s might have done in the past. Here’s the thing, he’s not Farve, Manning, or Palmer. Because they went on to have great careers thinking Jameis will turn it around , and do the same is fools gold. I’ve lately been called a Jameis hater, but that’s far from the truth. I wanted the Bucs to draft him, I wanted him to succeed. Thought the Bucs did the right thing picking up his fifth year option. After watching him throw a pick six in the opener to end the game, and lose, only to see him do it again in the final, I’ve just had enough. Don’t hate the guy, don’t even know him. Don’t care what color he is, I’m not a racist. I just think it’s time to move on. Don’t ask me who’s better, or who should replace him, I don’t know, don’t care, I’m just over Jameis Winston. This fan base is about 50, 50, on keeping him, or letting him go. He’s become a polarizing figure kind of like Trump, where half the nation thinks he’s the greatest, while the other half thinks he’s an idiot. We’ve become bickering Dems, and Republicans lately. If I owned the Bucs, I wouldn’t want such a divided fan base. Arains said he could win with another QB. The Glazers should take him up on that hoping whoever is brought in, can at least help unite us again.

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    • I’m with you Surfer, James is what Jameis is…. and he is not going to magically change in the offseason. Many fans (50%) believe he will morph into someone who can turn the franchise around, in reality it takes a whole team effort to accomplish this feat and not just Jameis. He has proven he cannot take the team to even a “Wildcard,” berth which encourages the other 50% to seek another (maybe) less flamboyant signal caller. 1/2 are tired of losing over the last 5 years and the other 1/2 wander if an alternative would be better.
      And yes I wish him well and realize he could possibly go to another team and become League MVP. Unfortunately good players are watching their careers slip by and if nothing else in respect for them I too say it is time to move on.

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      • Well reasoned response. The meter is always running in the NFL. That’s why we can’t afford to keep redrafting Licht’s busts at position after position.

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  17. Surfer your entitled to your opinion, but the fan base isn’t that divided (not that it matters winning fixes that instantly) look at poll on here most want either the tag or long term for Winston. About 60% think he should get a second year with this offense and Arians, with a better O line and run game, a defensive secondary that isn’t laughing stock first half of season, no broken thumb, and no missing Godwin and Evans. Not excuses just facts.

    You can also say he can’t cut int’s to 12-15 even though he has before because nobody knows for sure And maybe your right, but what gets me is when you think you can plug any average QB in this offense and it will work and be better than Winston. It doesn’t work that way. Has to be a very talented QB with strong arm that isn’t afraid to throw it down field. You think we can plug in a Tannehill or Bridgewater type and succeed? No way. For that to happen you have to have great run game. You think we can fix run game from average to great in one year? If so your crazy. You think any QB that we would draft that’s not going to be a top QB with our pick will be better as a rookie? Better after two years when Arians is gone anyways?

    This fire Winston and whoever else is another teams castaway will be better talk is beyond stupid to me.

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  18. Maybe 40 TDs and 40 INTs? Now that would be some next level s—- from Ja-miss.

    I would by the way gladly, GLADLY, eat crow if the lightbulb clicks on in year six and he figures out there’s a difference between balling and winning.

    But especially after watching him get up to the podium every week and say “I can’t turn the ball over” and then going on to keep doing it in spectacular fashion, dragging his teammates, fans and the season down with him, the evidence says he just can’t do it.

    I know I’m in the minority paying attention to evidence these days versus spins/lies but a half decade of behaviors tells the tale.

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  19. I certainly value the opinion of Bill Polian who knows far more about evaluating players than any of us. I’ll never forget that, “Who the hell is Mel Kiper” rant. Trev Albert had a promising albeit injury-shortened career. Trent Dilfer was a mediocre QB who just happened to be under center of a great Ravens team. Certainly not worthy of being a top ten choice.

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  20. If Jameis is sticking around he should take a team friendly deal. To the posters talking about nest eggs and health after football, I agree, but at the same time don’t think that applies as much to QB’s. If you can’t save your dough making 20M then you aren’t smart enough to be a QB in the NFL. I know Jameis will run and take hits but the wear and tear on a QB with the rules the way they are is minimal compared to pretty much every other position that isn’t K. If the Bucs give him big money for this next year it better be on the franchise tag and he better have a real nice season. Only way I can stomach it and I have been supporting Winston from the jump.

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  21. Everybody who says that he needs a bigger contract for nest eggs, health, family, etc. remember that he has made $46 million dollars so far. If I was his age and had made $46 million dollars at my job, I SHOULD be already set for life, even if I never worked again.

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