Do you remember the press conference a year ago when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (both on the Oklahoma City Thunder at the time) were at the podium following Game 5 of their playoff series versus the Dallas Mavericks?
In it, Westbrook (who had just gone off for 36 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists) was asked what he thought of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban saying he (Westbrook) wasn’t a “superstar” in the league.
Before Westbrook could even get his mouth to the microphone, Durant stepped in and said “Hold up” to Westbrook, and then said into his own mic,
That scene perfectly describes how I feel every time someone asks me about the comments Jason Whitlock made about Jameis Winston on Fox Sports 1 on Tuesday.
If you missed it, Whitlock, as he often does, tried to make something out of nothing by using the contract number offered by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to upcoming unrestricted free agent, Mike Glennon, as a negative against starting quarterback Jameis Winston, saying that offering a backup that much money “says something” about how the Buccaneers really view Winston.
“When the team is willing to make the backup the highest paid guy, I think it says something about Jameis Winston. I think Jameis Winston has a lot of talent, and I think people like Jameis Winston’s emotion, and he’s good television. And, listen, I’m rooting for Jameis Winston. He reminds me of Doug Williams, who was one of my favorite players of all time. But if he doesn’t clean up his emotion and his savvy. He’s not going to make it as a franchise quarterback in this league.”
Man, where do I start?
Bucs HC Dirk Koetter, QBs Jameis Winston and Mike Glennon – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offering Glennon the $8 million per year contract they did has nothing – and I repeat, nothing – to do with their feelings towards Winston, who is scheduled to have a cap value of $6,913,985 in 2017. All you have to do is listen to, oh, I don’t know, just every single interview head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht have had on their young quarterback to realize there is absolutely nothing “said” about Winston in that contract offer to Glennon. Winston is in the third year of his rookie contract that features over $25 million in guaranteed money, including a signing bonus of nearly $16.7 million.
Second, good teams and good general managers make these kinds of moves. Look at the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 when Tony Romo got hurt. Heck, look at the Oakland Raiders last year with one of the most potent offense in the league when their quarterback, Derek Carr, went down for the year. Teams need very good backup quarterbacks or playoff hopes are dashed.
Ask the 2014 Arizona Cardinals, which is Licht’s former team. The Cardinals were 9-1 until Carson Palmer tore his ACL after signing a long-term extension and going 2-5 down the stretch, including a road playoff loss at Carolina due to poor backup QB play.
But even better examples than that, and the reason a team like Tampa Bay offers Glennon that kind of contract, is because the Buccaneers are so close to the playoffs. The last two Super Bowl Champions, the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots, both used backups to win games for them during the regular season of their Super Bowl years when their starters couldn’t go.
Tampa Bay is Top 5 in terms of salary cap availability this offseason. They’re going to be spenders in free agency, and they’re going to acquire the talent to make a run into the postseason, whatever length that may be. Signing Glennon to a deal that for a year or two pays him, if he were to accept, more than Winston makes sense because this is the only time they can do it. Glennon has the chance to start elsewhere in free agency once he hits the open market and will likely earn $4 million more per year than the Bucs offered originally.
In the video, Fox Sports 1’s Chris Carter explains that saying the only time you can sign a top back up to a short-term deal like this is when your franchise quarterback is still under their rookie contract. It’s actually a luxury situation.
Bucs QB Mike Glennon – Photo by: Getty Images
To me, offering Glennon that money on a one-year deal was brilliant. If Tampa Bay has a situation where Winston goes down for the year, would Glennon come in an save an entire season? Probably not. However, if Winston were to suffer an ankle sprain, or something that would keep him out just two or three week, could Glennon get them one, even two wins? Yes, he could, and probably has a better chance to than almost any back up in the league.
Mike Evans’ contract is not up until next season, Winston’s is even further after that. Licht offering Glennon a short-term deal was a savvy insurance strategy that would not hurt the team at all financially in the long run with big name players they want to acquire or keep.
So, before you waste your breath having to defend the Buccaneers from Whitlock’s comments, just follow in Durant’s footsteps and tell them,
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org