SR’s Fab 5 is exclusively sponsored by Edmonson Electric • AC • Security – the official smart home and security company of PewterReport.com.
Table of Contents
For the past 40 years, Edmonson Electric • AC • Security has proudly served central Florida with electric services and now proud to add state-of-the-art “Smart Home” technology, security systems and air conditioning to its roster. Whether it’s surveillance cameras, home theaters, or smart lighting, Edmonson Electric • AC • Security is automating your dream home.
Visit EdmonsonElectric.com to find out more about controlling, monitoring and securing your home or call 813.910.3403 for additional information.
Control. Monitor. Secure.
FAB 1. How Would A 9-7 Finish In 2019 Have Affected The 2020 Bucs?
It’s third-and-1 at the Houston 23-yard line when Ronald Jones II picks up two yards down to the 21. On the next play, Jameis Winston hits Justin Watson for a 21-yard touchdown down the middle of the field against Cover 2 to put the Bucs up, 24-20. Tampa Bay’s defense would hold the Texans to a fourth quarter field goal and win 24-23 to improve to 8-7 on the year.
The next week, the visiting Falcons would take the Bucs to overtime, but Winston would drive Tampa Bay down the field for a game-winning 36-yard field goal in the north end zone from Matt Gay, who previously missed his first three field goals from the south end zone and the swirling winds of Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay’s defense held Atlanta scoreless on its only overtime possession and won the game with a turnover on downs.
While the Bucs finished Bruce Arians’ first season in Tampa Bay with a 9-7 record, they just missed the playoffs. Just like the team did in Dirk Koetter’s first season as head coach in 2016 with the same record.
Winston finished the year throwing for over 5,200 yards with 34 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. In his five years in Tampa Bay, Winston had two 9-7 seasons, but that wasn’t enough to get the Bucs over the hump and into the postseason.
Of course that’s not what happened.
None of that happened.
Jones didn’t pick up the first down in the third quarter against Houston and the Bucs settled for a 41-yard field goal from Gay and lost to the Texans, 23-20. Tampa Bay’s record fell to 7-8 on the year and the team couldn’t finish with a winning record.
The next week, Winston didn’t lead the Bucs down the field for a game-winning field goal. Instead, he threw his NFL-record seventh pick-six of the year, which was also his 30th interception of the season, on the first play of overtime and Tampa Bay lost, 28-22, to finish 7-9 on the year.
But what would have happened if the Bucs had gone 9-7, just missing a wild card spot? What would have happened if Winston had thrown 34 touchdowns and 29 interceptions instead of throwing 33 TDs and 30 INTs?
Former Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Would the Bucs have been more inclined to keep Winston if Tampa Bay had won six straight games to end the season, including seven of the last eight games?
If so, would the Bucs have given the franchise tag to Winston instead – because a long-term deal may or may not have been warranted in the team’s mind after throwing 29 interceptions, including six pick-sixes? Or would the Bucs have opted to re-sign Winston to a long-term contract extension?
And if Winston got the franchise tag, what would have happened to Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who was tabbed the franchise player?
If Bucs general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg were to have offered Winston a contract extension what would it have looked like? Would they have overpaid for Winston, who wound up signing a one-year deal worth $1.1 million with New Orleans to battle for Drew Brees’ backup job after receiving little interest from other teams?
There’s no way to tell how the market value might have changed for Winston with one more touchdown, one less interception and two more wins had he hit free agency? Would that have made a difference?
Would Winston have received a deal similar to the three-year, $63 million deal that former New Orleans QB Teddy Bridgewater got in Carolina?
The bigger question is whether or not the Bucs would still have been tempted to sign Tom Brady this offseason. Just because Winston would have finished the season with a winning record and the league’s leading passer doesn’t mean that head coach Bruce Arians didn’t want an upgrade.
Former Bucs QB and Super Bowl Champion Brad Johnson
The Bucs were thinking the same thing in the 2001 offseason when general manager Rich McKay and head coach Tony Dungy wanted an upgrade over Shaun King, who threw 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2000 while the team went 10-6, but lost in the first round of the playoffs in Philadelphia. That’s why the Bucs signed free agent quarterback Brad Johnson, who helped the team win Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002.
The Bucs might have made the move to sign Brady regardless of whether Winston went 9-7. After all, Brady has 30 postseason wins in his 20-year career, which are two more total wins than Winston had (28) in his five years as a starter. Not to mention those six Super Bowl championships.
There is no doubt that it would have been much tougher to part ways with Winston, whom the Bucs had invested five years, over $45 million and a first-round pick in, had the team finished 9-7. Winston is 26 and likely has between five to 10 years of worth of football left to play. He would’ve been the team’s QB of the future.
Brady will turn 43 this year and signed a two-year deal through 2021. It’s hard to believe Brady will play beyond the age of 45, which makes him only the QB of the immediate future.
There is no doubt that Brady’s impact with the Bucs has already been felt from the national media attention given to Tampa Bay this offseason to the amount of nationally televised games the team was given to the massive surge in ticket sales that should lead to every game at Raymond James Stadium being sold out.
Even coming off a winning season, Winston wouldn’t move the needle like Brady did this offseason.
Arians and Licht are expecting Brady’s impact over the next two years to go beyond that and immediately affect the win column, in addition to the locker room where his championship influence on younger core players like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Devin White and Vita Vea will be felt and carried after Brady’s days as a Buccaneer end.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Whether he finished 2019 with a winning season or a losing season, the truth is that Winston is gone and Brady is here. Right now on paper that seems like the better move, especially since Brady’s arrival in Tampa Bay also led to him and the Bucs luring Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski out of retirement to don the pewter and red for at least one year.
Time will truly tell if the addition of Brady was worth it, and if Winston goes on to win a Super Bowl with another team like Doug Williams, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer did after leaving Tampa Bay, or if Winston will follow in King’s footsteps as nothing more than a backup quarterback with a shorter than expected NFL shelf life.
Sometimes a losing season in hindsight is just what the doctor ordered. Bucs fans felt that way when Tampa Bay tanked its season finale at home against New Orleans in 2014 to ensure a 2-14 record and the No. 1 overall pick, which wound up being used for Winston.
Given what has happened already this offseason with Brady’s arrival, a 7-9 record may have been a huge blessing in disguise for the Buccaneers.
Do you like this edition of SR’s Fab 5? Please donate to PewterReport.com today to help our business overcome the financial hardship due to COVID-19. One-time donations start as low as $10 – or you can donate monthly for as low as $3 per month. Thank you for your support! CLICK HERE TO DONATE
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.