The Tampa Bay Buccaneers front-office has a tall task ahead of them this off-season as they are forced to decide on whether or not they will retain Jameis Winston or pass. The former Heisman Trophy quarterback is set to become a free agent if he is unable to sign a new deal with the team that drafted him first overall in the 2015 Draft — passing on others, including Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota. But, unlike the latter, Winston’s future is still bright, and if we allow another team to intercept him, we can kiss all the hard work good-bye.
First of all, you do not throw away five years of work because of something that can easily be fixed. Yes, the turnovers over the last five seasons have been a huge factor in, if he is the answer, but the same argument can be made that his record-setting 30 for 30 bout this season, and it has a lot of fans ready to execute the young quarterback from the roster altogether. As you make the argument about turnovers, it was not all on one player. It doesn’t help when players such as OJ Howard and Peyton Barber helping the “30 for 30 cause” by dropping passes, running wrong routes, etc. You eliminate the simple mistakes that come with being in a new system, and ultimately you eliminate about half of those turnovers.
Secondly, this man has spent five seasons, not only setting franchise records, but ended up winning the NFL Passing Title in a contract season. To me, if I’m evaluating him, that is impressive considering the three head coaches, thousands of hours in two different playbooks, studying your new coaches, etc. Have the Bucs made the playoffs? Absolutely not! ONE winning season in those five years, but there are haters out there in Bucs Country that solely blame him not realizing there are 52 other players on the roster (offense, defense, special teams cough KICKERS cough).
Finally, let’s just all be grateful in Bucs Country that we didn’t draft Mariota. I’ve heard the talks about “at least he made the playoffs,” and that’s cool, how far did he go? Wasn’t Ryan Tannehill the quarterback during the AFC Championship? Pretty sure I remember seeing ESPN talk about Mariota being benched or being hurt consistently. Not to mention, Mariota and even Tannehill both had the support of good defenses and a stout running game, while Winston had been subject to years of sub-par defenses, and an almost a non-existent running game. Outside of a suspension, Winston has only missed a handful of games. But, what he did that Mariota failed to do, is play with knee issues. If he recovers from his LASIK and the Arthroscopic Knee Surgery he had earlier this offseason, then the sky is the limit.
There’s no better option than Winston at this moment. The Draft is hit and miss with your quarterbacks. Bruce Arians did not come out of retirement just for one season with Winston. You don’t have Hall of Fame quarterbacks vouch for him if it wasn’t the right thing to do. If I were Jason Licht for a day, I’d look to bring Winston back with a 2-year deal worth roughly $65-million deal with a team option after 2020 or give him the transition tag, which is estimated to be about $25 million. As of this moment, there is no better option than Winston (even with rumors of Rivers and Brady being linked to Tampa Bay). I believe Winston under Arians will shine in his second year in the system.