The first significant acquisition under new general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris spoke about becoming a Tampa Bay Buccaneer on Friday. Tight end Kellen Winslow was acquired for a second-round pick this year and fifth-round pick next year according to Don Banks of Sports Illustrated. Winslow brings a lot of talent to the Bucs offense under new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski.
Over five seasons with the Cleveland Browns Winslow played in 44 games, hauling in 219 passes for 2,459 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2008 Winslow played in 10 games and missed six games because of a staph infection among other injuries.
Winslow’s best pro season came in 2007 when he caught 82 passes for 1,106 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 13.5 yards per catch and became the 14th tight end in league history to go over a 1,000 yards in a season. Winslow earned a Pro Bowl bid for his performance.
Winslow was the sixth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. Part of the same draft Browns draft class was quarterback Luke McCown, who Cleveland selected in the fourth round. McCown was traded on draft day in 2005 to Tampa Bay for a sixth-round pick. Along with McCown, Winslow is reunited with former Browns and current Buccaneers center Jeff Faine and wide receiver Antonio Bryant.
Below is the transcript of Winslow’s press conference at One Buc Place. The questions appear in parenthesis.
(Opening statement) Winslow: “I’m glad to be here. It is a blessing. I’m happy to be back in Florida, and I’ll open it up to questions.”
(Why is it a blessing?) Winslow: “Just a new opportunity I would say. I’m happy to be playing football, and I am happy to have a job. You know it is tough. It is a blessing.”
(Did you need a fresh start?) Winslow: “You know what Cleveland was great to me. I had a good time in Cleveland. I had a great time playing with Braylon Edwards and Brady Quinn. I’m going to miss those guys, but it is also a new opportunity and I’ve played with some of the guys on this team. Jeff Faine, Antonio Bryant, Luke McCown and some guys like that.”
(Did you have an idea that you were going to get traded?) Winslow: “I really didn’t. I didn’t know.”
(You have had a significant knee injury, and now have to play through pain?) Winslow: “Well everybody goes through pain. I’m just another guy who has to go through it. The job is to play on Sundays, and get to practice. I’m happy with coach Morris, a legend back there in Doug Williams. My tight ends coach with the Cleveland Browns (current Bucs tight ends coach) Alfredo Roberts. I’m just as happy as can be.”
(Are you healthy physically?) Winslow: “I’m healthy.”
(You were part of the same draft class as Luke McCown, how to do you feel about reuniting with him as the possible starting quarterback?) Winslow: “He’s a great quarterback. He’s going to compete for the starting job, and we’ll see how it goes. I’m just happy to be on the Tampa Bay Bucs. I’m ready to get going. I’m ready to get going right now.”
(Have they discussed with you your role in the offense?) Winslow: “We haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m sure we’ll find out.”
(Will the past off the field issues stay with you and how would you characterize it?) Winslow: “I would just say misunderstood, would be a better word to use. Just misunderstood people don’t really know me yet.”
(What don’t people understand about you?) Winslow: “I think everybody makes mistakes. The mistake I made when I was 19 years old, I’m 25 now, it was on national television and everybody got to see it. I stand here before you now. I think I’m a changed man.”
(What about this situation makes you think you can have a fresh start here?) Winslow: “Well coach Roberts is a great tight ends coach. Coach Morris, I met him and fell in love with him, the GM, just great people to be around.”
(Have you had a chance to talk with offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski?) Winslow: “Yes, not in depth though.”
(Do you feel like you needed a change out of Cleveland?) “No, Cleveland treated me right. Everything didn’t go as planned there, but I had a good time playing there.”
(Did you ask for a trade at any point?) Winslow: “No.”
(Do you feel you be a centerpiece of the Bucs rebuilding process and taking a leadership role?) Winslow: “I am. That is something they talked to me about, taking a leadership role. Like I said it is a new opportunity for me, so I’m really excited. Right after this I’m ready to go.”
(Can you put in perspective some your trying circumstances?) Winslow: “We are going to talk about positives.”
(You have some quality tight ends here with you in Alex Smith and John Gilmore. Do you expect to be the starter?) Winslow: “I’m going to compete for the job. I came here to compete.”
(Do you feel you have reached your potential?) Winslow: “No not at all, I don’t think you can ever reach potential. You are always working to be the best, so I have a lot of work to do.”
(McCown is a young quarterback how do you intend to help him grow and mature?) Winslow: “Hopefully we can help each other grow. This is a team. Luke’s one of the best men I know. Just as a man. He is a great man. I have the utmost respect him and I just can’t wait to get started.”
(Have you spoken with McCown since the trade?) Winslow: “Yes, I talked with him shortly, but he was with his kids.”
(Is this a place you would have chosen had you been free to pick your team, and be back in the state of Florida?) Winslow: “Just being back in the state of Florida means a lot to me. I went to the University of Miami. I’m just happy to be back in Florida. I know what the fans here are like. I’m really excited. It is a new opportunity. Warm weather. My wife will love it. It’ll be fun.”
(Are you excited to be playing for such a young coach?) Winslow: “I really am. Have you met him? Do you know this guy? Oh yeah I’m excited. I’m excited.”
(What was your first impression of coach Morris?) Winslow: “I thought he was a player.”
(Because of his attitude and energy?) Winslow: “Yeah, and his walk. I met him. I didn’t know who he was yet. I didn’t even know the name, so when I met him and he said he was the head coach I liked him. He was a good guy?”
(How did you learn about this trade? How did it go down?) Winslow: “I’m not going to get into that.”
(Did you talk with your dad about this?) Winslow: “Of course, that would be wise. Just dad being dad. I asked him some questions.”
(Is still working in state?) Winslow: “He’s in Ohio. He doesn’t work at Disney anymore. He works at Central State in the athletic department.”
(What do you want Bucs fans to know about you?) Winslow: “Right, I’m a competitive player, a passionate player, and I’m coming here as a leader and I’m coming here to win plain and simple. I have a lot of wins in that stadium.”
(Are you looking forward to blocking with this offensive line?) Winslow: “I’m looking forward to bettering myself. I have a lot of work to do. Blocking, pass catching, learning the offense, I have a lot of work to do.”
(With your passion do you clash with players sometime that don’t match your intensity?) Winslow: “Everybody has their limits. I’ve learned that. I think that is involved with being a leader also. Not everybody is Michael Jordan. Not everybody is Kobe Bryant. To make the players around you better makes a team.”
(What was asked of you in taking on a leadership role?) Winslow: “Well obviously around here there are some big names. They had to make some moves. They are looking for somebody to carry the torch. I’m a piece to the puzzle.”
(How do you lead?) Winslow: “I don’t think you can really define it. You just do it. I don’t know.”
(Can you be one of the new faces of this franchise?) Winslow: “I hope so.”
(Where you near by when you got traded?) Winslow: “I was just told to get down here.”
(So you had to travel?) Winslow: “I’m not going to get into it. I was just told to get down here and I got down here. I’m not going to get into it, but in the offseason I stay in San Diego.”