Despite the assurances fans have given about Jameis Winston returning as the quarterback of the Buccaneers, he’s not the No. 1 choice for Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a decision to make at the QB position and the waters were muddied Tuesday during press conferences with HC Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht.
Anyone that listened to the two press conferences know what was said and there was certainly no assurance from either guy that Jameis Winston was going to be coming back to the Buccaneers next season.
While both praised Winston’s talent and said that he is still young and can improve, they also were quick to mention that they are looking at other options and aren’t by any means tethered to Winston.
I understand that ‘muddying the waters’ helps create more leverage in negotiations. I understand that the Buccaneers are exploring all of their options, but the more I hear from Arians and Licht, the less I believe the talk about other QBs is just ‘narrative.’
Think about it this way: If the Buccaneers don’t use the franchise tag on Shaquil Barrett, he’s going to make upwards of $18 million per year. How many times have you heard Tampa Bay say that it’s exploring all of its options for talented edge-rushers?
How many times have you heard Licht say ‘We’re not saying we don’t want Shaq, we’re just saying we’re looking behind every single door.”
The answer? Not once.
The organization is sold out to getting Barrett back, but that is not the case with Winston.
It’s not to say that Winston won’t get an extension or that he won’t be back. This is to say that anyone who thinks the Buccaneers aren’t seriously considering free-agent options at QB isn’t paying attention.
The more talks unfold, the less likely it is that Tampa Bay uses the tag on Winston and things certainly aren’t at a conclusion when it comes to the quarterback position.
Winston isn’t the No. 1 choice in the minds of Arians or Licht.
You can believe what you want- I still believe that Winston is the odds-favorite to be the QB next season- but to completely dismiss thoughts that the Buccaneers are seriously pursuing other options would be foolish at this point.