Though opinions could vary pretty dramatically, Jameis Winston has been a good quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At least most of the time. The problem though is that in today’s NFL, no team is looking for “good.” Good doesn’t get a team to the playoffs year in, year out. Only better than good does. Additionally, with Winston now facing a three-game suspension and with a fifth-year contract option that catapults his salary due in 2019, Tampa Bay may be tempted to move on sooner rather than later.
#Bucs QB Jameis Winston has not been notified of his suspension, nor has the team, sources said. But the expectation is he’s off the field for several games. The next similar circumstance will mean a one-year suspension for Winston.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 21, 2018
If one were to argue that Winston has been a disappointment thus far in the NFL relative to the draft pick used on him (first overall in 2015), it would be hard to counter. However, his completion percentage and QB Rating have improved each season. So there is plenty of reason to still hold out optimism for the 24-year-old.
But here’s the catch: Tampa’s cap hit for their quarterback just north of $8 million. Winston’s fifth-year option (which the Bucs have previously picked up) ups that cap number to almost $21 million in 2019. They could, theoretically, still get out of that if Winston is cut before the 2019 league year (though that’s even a little more complicated since that salary is guaranteed against injury. so there is a scenario Tampa Bay gets stuck with it whether they like it or not.)
Plenty of team’s have decided off-field issues are enough to cut ties with very talented players. Winston has had plenty of those, dating back to his days at Florida St. This time, Winston was accused of abusive behavior with an Uber driver while catching a ride.
The team’s problems that start with Winston only snowball. Head coach Dirk Koetter was hired from within the organization specifically because he had a good relationship with his quarterback. And the team trusted Winston’s future development was in good hands. If those two are tied together, what does getting rid of Winson mean for Koetter? And if the team decides to get rid of their promising young quarterback and their head coach, is the GM next? This seems to be a running theme regarding the career of Jameis Winston: with every step forward, there’s a step back that leads to more questions than answers.