The future for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston

Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

While many fans may be calling for Jameis Winston’s departure this offseason, based on the options available this may not be an ideal decision.

Everyone who follows football knows that Jameis Winston is at the end of his contract and there is little end to the gossip and speculation surrounding the future of the embattled Buccaneer. Many wonder whether the Buccaneers will continue to show faith in #3 or wipe the slate clean and start again at the QB position.

The biggest question that the Buccaneers are facing is whether or not the team will actually improve if Jameis departs. Winston threw something other than a football last year and that was a spanner in the works. In what was previously seen as an easy decision to get rid of Jameis at the end of the year, if you ignore the 30 interceptions, Winston has showed that he’s capable of putting up Brady, Rodgers and Brees-esque numbers and has made the Bucs think twice about letting him walk.

Head Coach Bruce Arians has made it clear that he feels the Buccaneers defense is good enough to win games regardless of who is leading the offense at quarterback. Is Arians being unfair on a guy who broke numerous franchise records last year? We should also ask – is his best hope of turning this Tampa team into playoff contenders already sitting in the locker room?

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There are two options to find a replacement quarterback if the decision is to move on-the draft and free agency. If history is any indication, you can exclude the draft for finding an instant starter as that just isn’t how Bruce Arians works. The Bucs may look for a steal in the later rounds as a genuine back-up and maybe even as a challenger for the QB spot, but you certainly won’t see the Bucs making moves in the 1st or 2nd round for guys like Herbert or Love (Burrow and Tua will be long gone, too).

The best option to find an instant starter would be free agency. The first question that should be evaluated is: are there any guys available that will straight away make this offense better? The answer to that is most likely no.

I’ve seen fans on Twitter mention Andy Dalton, Derek Carr and even Tom Brady (!) as options. Winston, despite his faults, is a better football player than Dalton. Carr has been signed to a ridiculous contract to remain in Oakland, although I think Winston is a better player than him too. Brady is the GOAT but there’s more chance of Chris Godwin dropping a pass than TB12 coming to Tampa… both are simply not happening.

Arians refused to commit to Winston at the end of the regular season, and I do anticipate the Bucs bringing in a better back-up as a safety blanket. With all due respect to Gabbert and Griffin, they don’t seem to have gained the trust of Arians.

I’d love to see Teddy Bridgewater move over from New Orleans. At one point he was the nailed on replacement for Drew Brees but that situation has changed with the emergence of Taysom Hill. The salary Teddy would command could be a huge blocker, however, and he may only come to Tampa if he’s guaranteed to be the starter.

Because of this, a later draft pick is probably the most likely option for finding a new backup. For me, Winston will be the guy in Tampa next year and expect to see a one year prove it deal. If Winston can produce anything close to the 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns whilst reducing the number of silly risks and subsequently interceptions he should still be the guy to lead the Bucs for the foreseeable future.

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I understand why some fans want a refreshed Bucs offence and the possibility of getting a brand new QB is exciting. While turning over a new leaf may be an intriguing idea, another full summer working with Arians and Leftwich could transform Winston into the most exciting option of them all.

BUCS FANS – Do you agree? Should Tampa Bay stick with Winston for another year or look to the draft and free agency for a replacement? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!