Do you think it would be easy playing poker with a billion-dollar war chest? That probably sounds like fun. The catch? Every hand is no limit, $100-million buy-in.
Each offseason NFL general managers look at the hand they’re holding and decide what to hold and what to trade. Some cards will simply be discarded. At one point every team has to decide if they will chase a talent down the rabbit hole and invest in a potential future or let them go and look for success elsewhere. With the salary cap as the great equalizer, bets must be made to get ahead of the competition yet stay within the confines. In this scenario one of the most powerful plays is a double down.
The term double down means to strengthen one’s commitment to a particular strategy, especially one that is potentially risky. The problem with a double down is it can be the one move that will mark a GM as a genius and gainfully employed or woefully wrong and looking for a new job.
Double down and draw a winning card, and the franchise might drink from the fountain of success for half a decade. Make that play and be wrong—it could take half a decade to rectify. If this is such a risky proposition, then why do it, you might ask? Because only those who risk are truly free.
The Buccaneers are rolling toward the fifth year of Jameis Winston’s contract. This is possibly the largest hand of poker they have sat in on in over a decade. If HC Bruce Arians fixes the offense’s inability to score inside the red zone and DC Todd Bowles teaches some guys how to cover a WR, the team will be negotiating the largest contract in Tampa Bay Buccaneer history next year. Of course, get Winston to ink a new deal this offseason, and not only could the team save some scratch in a QB contract market that raises annually, but they could also spread that bonus over five years and open up some cap space yesterday.
What do you say, Buccaneer fans? Should Jason Licht consider doubling down on Jameis Winston or let the cards play out and gamble a bigger buy-in next year?
Nobody said this would be easy.