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.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston shakes hands with GM Jason Licht – Photo courtesy of Buccaneers“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.

To read King’s full column, click here.

 

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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macabee
macabee
6 years ago

I didn’t know when the love affair started (nor do I care), but I knew there was a love affair since the NFL Combine. I never bought the smokescreen line because with the first pick in the draft what was to be gained? A trade? After the release of McCown, I was convinced they were going to take a QB and not trade the pick. Otherwise, what QB is leading the Bucs to the promised land? Think about it! What I wasn’t sure of was how the Glazers felt about Winston. At the owner’s meeting, when Joel Glazer came out… Read more »

Dbuc63
Dbuc63
6 years ago

IMO this is scary but not necessarily concerning. One of two outcomes will happen. Winston will be as great as L & L believe he will be. ( I hope as well) or They lost objectivity in evaluation of the “whole” person due to such a strong admiration of him. This sort of reminds me of Rah when he described Freeman. All the intangibles of being a great QB but lack of commitment as a good NFL QB.

gibsonmx
gibsonmx
6 years ago

I am just Glad the debate of whom the Bucs would take is OVER!! The Bucs obviously spent A LOT of time and money to make sure he is a decent young man, that did a few dumb things. I hope that the haters either get on board with this young man or find another team to cheer for. But coming on here or any other site to bash him is counterproductive. If you are a fan of the team lets unite and cheer on our team

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
6 years ago

Personally I have to come a good place with the pick – I think we are in a much better position than we have been at QB in a very long time…whether JW turns out to be “it” or not, we’re still much better. I actually hate reading that L&L fell in love with him though – their brief history of drafting guys they fall in love with is not good (yes I am looking at you Sims taken in the 3rd) – I would rather have heard something like “our scouts raved about this guy’s throwing abilities”, “we watched… Read more »

e
e
6 years ago

With the amount of time that this admiration has gone on with L&L, it really makes me wonder about that 21 point lead against the Saints in the last game of the season? SEGUE: Will and should the Bucs be in the chase for La’el Collins if he is cleared? If he is innocent, then there is a top-15 talent left tackle free agent out there that a bunch of teams are going to be fighting over after today’s ruling. Bottom line: this guy would be the best LT prospect on the Buc’s roster. And IF they are thinking about… Read more »

gibsonmx
gibsonmx
Reply to  e
6 years ago

e, I would hope like hell that the bucs would put on the full court press to bring La’el Collins in if/when he is cleared.

e
e
Reply to  gibsonmx
6 years ago

I’m sure there are going to be GMs flooding his agent’s phone, but a direct Winston appeal might stand out.

BucWild02
BucWild02
6 years ago

During Winston’s Heisman/National Championship year, who didn’t fall in love with the guy? He was charismatic, talented, driven, and most importantly, a winner. The question that might occur to some (conspiracy theorists) is : Did the Bucs lose on purpose all season? The season seemed lost as soon as they named McCown the starter. Or was it lost when the OC had a health scare and basically never came back, in any capacity really? Or maybe it was when they got rid of the best corner in the league so they could sign Johnson, Collins, McCown, Myers, and Verner? I… Read more »

Iabucfan
Iabucfan
6 years ago

I remember this debate going on during the Saints game last year. I believed that it was more important to have the number 1 overall pick than to win THAT game. So what if they played back ups. Mission accompli