Jameis Winston has his work cut out for him if he wants to land a contract extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 2018 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is shaping to up to be a big one for not just the players but also for the coaching staff and general manager Jason Licht.
Quarterback Jameis Winston may have the most on the line heading into this season. Tampa Bay did exercise Winston’s fifth-year option early in the offseason but the team could cut ties next summer and get out from under the $21 million dollars he is due.
The former number one overall pick will be playing for his future with the organization this season. The Buccaneers impending decision on their starting quarterback will send shockwaves through the franchise.
The question is, what exactly does Winston have to do to earn a contract extension?
Winston’s work needs to begin in the community. At training camp, I saw him first-hand signing autographs and taking pictures with everyone in sight before the horn sounded the end of the practice session.
The Florida State product needs to regain the trust, love and support of the Tampa Bay area. While he won’t be able to win everybody over, he sure can try to win back those on the fence about him.
If the ownership and the front office see that the fan base will stand behind him, signing him to a big money deal to be the face of the franchise would be an easier decision. A quarterback is typically the most recognizable player on a team and one that resonates with both local and national audiences.
The next step for Winston will be fixing any issues which may have arisen in the locker room. He needs to show his teammates how serious he is about the game.
He has proven his leadership skills in the past but he might be going back to square one when he was pictured carrying teammates pads back to the locker room as a rookie would do.
The final step with Winston will be improving his play on the field. In particular, his knack for turning the ball over. Whether it be interceptions or fumbles, Winston needs to take care of the football.
So far in his career, Winston has thrown 44 interceptions and fumbled the ball 31 times (15 fumbles lost). Although he has the arm talent and athleticism to make highlight reel plays, he needs to stay under control.
Winston may be looking to fix that himself with another change he made in the offseason. The first thing I noticed at camp was a glove on his left hand (No, not a baseball mitt from his FSU days). The new addition could help control the ball when rushers try to strip him.
Lastly, for Winston to earn a contract extension he needs to produce some wins. For a franchise that has gone over a decade without postseason play, the fans and the organization are hungry for success.
With an improved defense and a plethora of offensive weapons, Winston has the tools around him to succeed. For the first time in his career, Tampa has put Winston in a winning situation on the field. Now he needs to live up to his end of the bargain.
The Glazer family will be looking for winning results and at the very least a vast improvement from last season for them to keep everyone together for 2019 and beyond. Changes will be made if Tampa Bay struggles this season which would further hurt Winston’s longterm future with the team.
If a new coach or GM comes into Tampa after the season who knows if Winston is indeed the man they want leading their team.
If Winston can silence his critics with a good 2018 and shows maturity on and off the field, then he could find himself in Tampa for years to come.