NFL

What Should the Buccaneers Do With Jameis Winston?

The Buccaneers have a record of issues with developing talented players. Tampa Bay’s latest question involves the first overall pick from the 2015 draft: quarterback Jameis Winston. His overall performance hasn’t delivered like a first-round pick ideally should. This leaves the Bucs with a 7-8 record through Week 16.

Winston also regularly shows isolated flashes of the type of player he could be. Is he a development problem to be solved? Or should the Bucs cut their losses and risk repeating the mistake they made in trading away the great Steve Young?

The highs and lows of Jameis Winston’s make-or-break year

Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Winston entered the league in 2015. Here in 2019, it’s understandable that patience wears thin for Bucs fans and the front office. The enigma of his future in the NFL is seemingly more confusing than ever after his downright bizarre season.

The QB delivered a below .500 record leading the Buccaneers’ offense. In the process, two stats stick out like sore thumbs. Winston is the first QB in NFL history to throw for over 450 yards in consecutive games. He also leads the NFL this season in interceptions, with a dismal 28 so far.

On the positive side of things, his second 450-plus-yard performance was more than it seems at first blush. He managed the feat with superstar wideout Mike Evans benched with an injured hamstring.

Backup wide receiver Scotty Miller’s first-quarter hamstring injury added him to the club. Then wide receiver Chris Godwin’s third-quarter hamstring injury made for a crowd.

And Winston himself was questionable for the game due to a broken thumb. Somehow, he threw as well as he did. He also gave up the ball repeatedly. This is the Winston quandary: breaking records, while turning over the ball and, more often than not, losing games.

Should Winston keep his job with the Bucs?

Winson wants to come back. Just as the general opinion of his 2019 season veered toward purely negative, he exploded for the aforementioned huge yardage performances. The Bucs went on a seemingly improbable four-game tear.

Then the Texans game happened. This sloppy bar-room brawl of a game included Winston giving up four ugly interceptions. Some of these looked so bad, it was like he meant to target the Houston receivers.

Yes, the Texans lead the AFC South with a strong 10-5 record. Yes, the game ended up closer than any four-interception performance reasonably should, to the Bucs’ credit. But this kind of chaotic performance is not the makings of a franchise quarterback.

Should Winston get more time to work out his glaring issues and elevate his obvious, record-setting strengths?

The current rumors about Jameis Winston’s future

Winston is clearly cut out for the NFL. The question is, should a team so close to putting together a legitimate playoff threat rely on the most confounding QB in the league?

The issue becomes more convoluted when considering how the Bucs will pay to keep crucial performers like linebacker Shaq Barrett. He tied up legendary Buccaneer Warren Sapp‘s 16.5 single-season sacks, and he has another game to go. He seems to think he’s a shoo-in for returning, telling gathered post-game reporters, “I think I’ll be here for sure. I like it here, they like me here.”

With the specter of Steve Young still lurking the hallways of the Bucs’ front office, it’s likely Winston gets at least one more season to figure things out. He isn’t finishing the year at his best. But his athleticism and moments of tactical brilliance that showed in the prior four games are worth the risk.

For now, at least, Winston is not a bust.