With former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady now entrenched as the starting signal caller for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it means that Jameis Winston’s time with the franchise has come to an end. The Buccaneers made Winston the first overall pick of the 2015 National Football League Draft as they expected the former Heisman Trophy Award winner to lead their franchise to greatness. But that never happened as the ineptitude of the Bucs franchise was front and center as Winston played for three different head coaches in Tampa. But Winston is not without blame as the immaturity that plagued him in college at Florida State hindered him with the Buccaneers as well.
In 2015, Winston passed for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns as he appeared to be the real deal. However Winston would then be faced with his first hurdle in the National Football League when Lovie Smith was fired as the head coach of the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay went 6-10 in Winston’s first year, and they appeared to be a team that was trending upward. But Bucs general manager Jason Licht pushed the panic button as he was fearful of losing offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to another team which paved the way for him to fire Smith and promote Koetter. Licht did this in spite of the fact that Smith had the better NFL resume which included leading the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006 as their head coach, while Koetter didn’t have any previous head coaching experience in the league.
Under Koetter, Winston never reached his full potential as he was an up and down quarterback. Winston would show flashes of brilliance, but he was also a source of frustration as he was careless with the football. Winston’s inability to get it done would see Koetter get fired in 2018, and he’d be replaced by veteran head coach Bruce Arians who’s specialty was developing quarterbacks. But Winston’s struggles would continue under Arians as he threw 30 interceptions last season which was tops in the National Football League. And in five years in Tampa Bay, Winston would throw 88 interceptions as he was very careless with the football.
Winston’s immaturity also came into play as he was suspended by the National Football League for three games in 2018 which was the result of violating the league’s personal conduct policy as the result of allegedly groping a female Uber driver. And in that season Winston would also lose the starting quarterback job to veteran signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick.
This resulted in the Bucs not giving Winston a contract extension prior to the start of the 2019 season, and when he could not get his act together under Arians, the writing was on the wall that his time in Tampa was coming to an end.
Now Arians has a quarterback that he believes in as the Buccaneers signed Brady last week, while Winston must now pick up the pieces of his once promising career. And as Winston has always excelled as an alpha-male, he’ll have to do something that he is unaccustomed to do which is to eat humble pie.
There will be a team that will give Winston an opportunity to be on a National Football League roster next season, but he might have to accept a role as a backup. Winston’s name has not been linked to any team so far this off-season, and as vacancies are being filled, along with some clubs focusing on the NFL Draft next month, the likelihood of him getting a starting gig for next season at this point is slim.
It can actually work to Winston’s benefit to spend a season as a backup, but it depends on the organization, as well as the quarterback that he is the understudy for, as he needs to be in a place that he is going to be held accountable. But it will be tough for Winston being that he could not get it done on the field, or off the field in one of the smallest markets in the National Football League where the pressure and spotlight on him were each minimal. And the cherry on the top is that Winston could not elevate his game under Arians.
This is truly the crossroads of Winston’s career, and it is unfortunate as no one can ever question the talent that he possesses. But this time right now will either make or break Winston as he must find a way to become a leader in a way that he has never led before, and that is by his actions.
Winston will have to become a student of the game in a way that he has never done it before, and he will have to prove to an organization that he can be trusted which is so important to being a quarterback in the National Football League. And if Winston is unable to adjust his approach, he will only be remembered as a player who possessed immense talent, but was never able to live up to the hype.