By most previous accounts, Bucs’ general manager Jason Licht and the organization were enamored with former FSU quarterback Jameis Winston since the end of last season. But on Monday, in his weekly MMQB column, SI.com’s Peter King revealed it wasnt just since the end of the 2014 season, the quarterback crush went all the way back to last spring.
“You can trace the chase of Winston to Draft Day 2014, as crazy as it sounds. On the scouting trail, Licht became enamored with Winston, knowing he might leave FSU for the 2015 draft, after his second season as the starter. Licht’s brother-in-law asked him via a draft-day text last year whether he preferred Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater in the first round.
“Winston,” was Licht’s replay.”
King, who traveled to Tampa to meet with the Bucs on Friday, revealed a number of other interesting tidbits, including head coach Lovie Smith’s revelation that Winston was the man for the job.
“One of the pivotal moments,” he said, “came when Lovie and I went to the Rose Bowl. [The Jan. 1 game pitted Oregon against FSU, Mariota against Winston, the two best quarterbacks facing off.) We got on the plane here in Tampa and Lovie pulled out his [Microsoft] Surface to watch tape, and I didn’t even want to see what he was looking at. I wanted Lovie to come to his own decision, not influenced in any way by me.”
The game: Oregon 59, Florida State 20. A walkoff win by Mariota. Now the two men who share the final say on Bucs’ draft choices and trades were alone, thinking. After the game, in the car back to the hotel, Licht was dying to know. He said to Smith: “All right, Lovie. Who’s your guy?”
“Jase, you know who it is,” Smith said.”
Also in the column, King wrote about offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s ‘Come-To-Winston” moment.
“Play after play, for 45 minutes they went through it. Winston remembered it all. Koetter has been coaching college and pro football since 1985. He is not a gee-whiz coach. Licht was blown away by Koetter’s impression after that couple of hours with Winston. “I’m going to compare every guy I test like that the rest of my career to Jameis,” Koetter told Licht.”
And one of the most interesting nuggets from King came when he wrote about a certain clause put in Winston’s contract.
Licht and agents Greg Genske and Kenny Felder negotiated the Winston contract so he’d have the business of football out of the way and he could focus solely on football starting with the Bucs’ minicamp starting this Thursday in Tampa. In the contract, a Bucs’ source said, is a clause prohibiting Winston from playing professional baseball during the life of his Tampa Bay deal.
How Winston’s career will play out is anyone’s guess, but after reading King’s column, it is clear what the Buccaneers are expecting. Time will tell, and it beings this upcoming weekend when Winston takes the field in red and pewter for the first time at Tampa Bay’s rookie mini-camp.
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@example.com