Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Tom Brady left New England and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While that move definitely shakes up the NFL landscape at large, it also changes things for some specific players. Quarterback Jameis Winston is undoubtedly one of them.
After spending five seasons as the Buccaneers starter, Winston is now an unrestricted free agent waiting for a team to give him a chance. One crucial flaw, however, could be keeping him from finding a job.
Jameis Winston’s time in Tampa Bay
Ever since he burst onto the scene at Florida State, Jameis Winston has possessed plenty of star power. His issue, however, is channeling that ability into consistent play.
While Winston’s career in Tampa Bay started off well enough, his play eventually started to go downhill. A shoulder problem shortened his 2017 campaign; he then missed three games in 2018 after groping an Uber driver.
With Bruce Arians taking over the offense and quarterback coach Byron Leftwich serving as a mentor, Winston was supposed to take a step forward in 2019. While his offensive numbers did skyrocket, he also threw 30 interceptions and coughed up 12 fumbles. On a given week, he was capable of leading his team to victory or throwing the game away; you just had to wait and see which Winston would show up.
At the end of the season, Jameis Winston’s contract expired. With Tom Brady coming to town, he was deemed surplus to requirements; as of now, he’s still looking for a new job.
Colin Cowherd thinks he’s pinpointed the problem
When a quarterback has made it through opening salvo of free agency without a job, it’s safe to say there’s a problem. Colin Cowherd believes that Jameis Winston’s issue is simple: he just doesn’t win enough games.
“Don’t overthink the room on this stuff,” Cowherd recently said. “Jameis Winston, last year, is 7-7. If he wins his last two games at 9-7, he’s probably still a Buccaneer. He went 0-2 in the last two, 7-9 [overall], and they went and got Tom Brady.”
Cowherd then went on to cite some other NFL quarterback that support his theory. Cam Newton, for example, has plenty of ability on paper, but hasn’t found a job for 2020; Nick Foles, on the other hand, proved he could win, which keeps him in the league.
“That’s what this is about,” the host continued. “Win games, there’s a market.”
Is losing really Jameis Winston’s biggest issue?
As with any radio show, there were some issues with Cowherd’s logic. Cam Newton’s injury history, for example, definitely plays a role in his unemployment. When it comes to Jameis Winston, however, the host is in the right neighborhood.
The quarterback’s big problem is reliability, which goes hand and hand with winning. The NFL is an incredibly cut-throat league for everyone, not only players. If a head coach or general manager takes a chance on Winston and gives him a starting job, they’re putting themselves on the line. If the quarterback struggles during his first season or two, someone will pay the price; even if Jameis Winston were to develop into Peyton Manning down the line, that wouldn’t provide any solstice to a coach who lost his job.
At the NFL level, teams undoubtedly have more complex evaluation tools than looking at wins and losses, but, at the end of the day, everyone’s job is on the line. Even if there are legitimate mitigating factors, like the lack of a running game in Tampa, it comes down to trust. If you don’t know what Jameis Winston will do on a given afternoon, it’s hard to place your fate in him as your starter.