The Buccaneers knew the legal challenge quarterback Jameis Winston was facing when they made him the overall No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft. And now it appears the issue – and potential distraction – could linger until 2017.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Matt Baker, who has been on the forefront of the Winston-Erica Kinsman saga since it began almost two years ago, wrote on Thursday, “Attorneys for Winston and the woman who sued him on a complaint of sexual battery have agreed to a tentative trial date of April 3, 2017, according to court records.”
While it may become a distraction in 2017, the fact that a trial could be almost two years away, can work in Winston’s and the Buccaneers’ favor. Winston has been able to deal with the situation since late in 2013 without any outward issues, as evidenced by his ability to continue to play at at high level in college, leading FSU to an undefeated regular season, and a spot in the first BCS playoffs last January. To be able to play two full seasons without a trial looming in the near future could help Winston adjust to life in the NFL quicker than had the trial been sooner. And having a tentative start date being in the spring as opposed to during the football season is also ideal for Winston and the Buccaneers.
Although the former Seminoles star has the ability to “compartmentalize” and focus on the task at hand, something Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher repeatedly said while Winston was at FSU, it is still hard to imagine it isn’t still in the back of his mind.
And Baker also noted, “Although both sides agree that a settlement is unlikely, they may informally discuss a settlement as the case progresses, according to the document.”
So there is still a chance the trial itself never happens, although could a settlement be considered somewhat of an admission of partial fault by Winston, and would Winston then be subject to discipline from the league?
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