Jameis Winston has remained consistent throughout his NFL career in one aspect—he’s been consistently inconsistent. He’s gone from the highs of his rookie season where he performed well enough to earn Pro Bowl honors, to last year’s dichotomy of a season where he threw for an impressive NFL-leading 5,109 yards, only to be negated by a league-worst 30 interceptions. Winston’s decision-making has been called into question for years.
After five years in Tampa Bay, Winston got a new lease on his career this offseason when he signed with the New Orleans Saints to serve as a backup for Drew Brees. While Winston is slated to back up the future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Heisman Trophy winner has already displayed considerable improvement in his decision-making since the move, and that could portend a sign of things to come, including a possible battle with the incumbent for the starting position.
Jameis Winston begins NFL career with the Buccaneers
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston as the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, there was hope he might be able to, at the very least, return the team to the playoffs, which hasn’t happened since 2007. But it was Tampa Bay—a team that won the Super Bowl in 2002 and has barely sniffed the postseason since, making just two playoff appearances, both early exits in the Wild Card round.
Winston’s career started ominously. In the season-opener against the Tennessee Titans, his first-ever NFL pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Visions of Vinny Testaverde danced in the heads of the Buccaneer faithful. Fortunately, Winston’s first pass wasn’t a predictor of his rookie season. In fact, he went on to have a solid year throwing for 4,042 yards, including 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl.
The next four seasons were much of the same with up and down performances on a week-to-week basis. Jameis Winston showed glimpses of brilliance, like a 2015 game against Philadelphia, where he threw five touchdowns. But then there were those games where he displayed monumental lapses in judgment and leadership, like October 2019 against the Carolina Panthers, when he threw five interceptions. Following the 2019 campaign, the Buccaneers decided it was time to move on from the Jameis Winston experiment and opted not re-sign him.
Jameis Winston dogged by questionable decisions in the past
Unfortunately, Jameis Winston’s decision-making has been problematic as far back as his days at Florida State, and it’s not just limited to the football field. In multiple instances, Winston’s choices have made headlines for the wrong reasons as he’s run afoul with the law.
Winston has been involved in not one, but two shoplifting incidents. One occurred in 2013 when, according to a police report, Winston drank soda at a burger restaurant without ordering any food or paying for the drink. Another happened a year later when he shoplifted crab legs from a grocery store. He was ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.
In 2017, it was reported that the NFL had conducted an investigation into Jameis Winston, who was accused of groping a female Uber driver back in 2016. Based on its conclusion, the league suspended the quarterback for the first three games of the 2018 season.
Winston fires agent after New Orleans deal
Jameis Winston hired his agent, Joel Segal, in 2018, right before his return from the league’s three-game suspension. Segal helped Winston navigate the tricky waters following the 2019 season and landed the heavily-discounted deal with the Saints that will pay the quarterback $1.1 million in 2020.
Winston’s new deal, in combination with the new contract signed by Patrick Mahomes for almost half-a-billion dollars, prompted him to act. He fired Segal. That snap decision to move on reveals the quarterback is in a different place and ready to start a new chapter. He understands signing with the Saints for just over a million dollars with his pedigree, even as a backup, was an awful deal. He also recognizes that after a year in New Orleans, he will have options, and he wants an agent who can help him maximize that deal and bank the most money.
Now, the lingering question is regarding Jameis Winston’s play on the field. Whether or not he gets to prove his on-field decision making has improved is still yet to be determined. But if his recent decision regarding his agent is any indication, Winston appears ready to turn a new page in his career and if given the opportunity, take his play on the field to the next level. If that happens, it could make for an interesting season at quarterback in New Orleans.