When Jameis looks across the field this Sunday at Cam Newton, he will probably be wondering if he is looking at what his future will be or what it could have been.
Both quarterbacks have followed a similar trajectory up to this point in their careers. Both quarterbacks had a brush with the law in college. Both led their college team to victory in the national championship game—Cam for Auburn and Jameis for Florida State. Each won the Heisman trophy, given each year to the most valuable player in college football. They were even both drafted #1 overall in the NFL draft and had some success for teams that, again, had played badly enough to earn the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft. There are also differences between these two young men but not as many as you might think.
Both quarterbacks have what pundits call “escapability.” From his days at Auburn we have gotten used to seeing Cam Newton use all his 6’5”, 240+ pound frame to initiate contact when rushing from the pocket, which is also when he seems most dangerous. At Florida State we got used to seeing Jameis Winston use his 6’4”, 220+ pound frame to stand in the pocket, only venturing out of it when necessary. Both have faced questions regarding their ability to read defenses. For Newton it seems related to his quickness to exit the pocket. For Winston it is more the decisions he has made as of late with regard to his turnovers.
The one difference between these two is that after renewing Cam Newton’s contract going into his fifth season, the Panthers’ brass were highly questioned as to just how good of a move this was. All Newton did that season was lead the cats to a 15-1 record and an appearance in the Superbowl. Also, Cam was selected the NFL MVP that season and made Carolina look genius for having signed him the year before at an already lower rate than some other quarterbacks would receive following the season.
With Jameis Winston entering his fifth season, there does not appear to be any new contract in the near future, and the jury is out on whether there will be an extended contract at all. The next five weeks will go a long way in determining if there will be an offer or if the Buccaneers will even be picking up the fifth-year option for 2019. One thing is sure: Jameis will be looking across the field this Sunday at a QB who is continuing to progress in his career and has faced some of the same obstacles but has done better conquering them….so far.