Week 14 of the NFL season and Jameis Winston officially earns a payday for 2020.
Book it. Mark it down. Call sports radio with your hot take. The payday just might come from the Buccaneers. Yet, this I guarantee you, somebody will pony up for Winston.
Like The Flu, But Turnovers
Week after week, game after game, watching Winston is akin to catching the flu after getting a flu shot. You prepare, you brace, you convince yourself it can’t happen. Yet on the opening series – even his first pass – Winston releases a wounded duck that becomes an interception. They practiced all week for that??? Even Bruce Arians, with the largest coaching staff in the NFL, can’t explain it away. His recent game plans must assume Winston has put them in a 10-point hole.
The Buccaneers hand the Colts 17 points on a platinum platter and Indy still can’t close the deal. Do you think Buccaneer fans turn postal watching Winston? Imagine crisis hotlines in Indy this week!
Still, for every Winston yin, he flashes his yang. Winston doubles down embarrassment with greatness. It’s happened all season. It’s happened all four-and-a-half seasons with the Bucs. It happened at Florida State.
We’ve come to lump Winston’s passes into three bins: Superhuman, human and high school.
His 61-yard laser to Mike Evans – superhuman.
His 31-yard flip to Breshard Perriman – human.
His pick-six to Darius Leonard – high school.
And all three happen within minutes of the other.
The question every week is, can the superhuman passes cover up the high school? Against the Cardinals, Falcons, and Colts the high school passes fade. Against the Niners, Saints and even Giants they fester. That’s why the Buccaneers stand at 6-7 when they easily should be 9-4. And you wonder why Winston is the most polarizing figure in Buccaneers’ history?
Winston is on pace to end the season with more than 5,000 yards passing, more than 30 touchdown passes and interceptions – all will be among NFL leaders. And with that, somebody will throw a huge contract at Winston convinced the good outweighs the bad.
You Don’t Think
You don’t think the Steelers won’t take a chance on Winston with Big Ben coming off injury? How about Tennessee, the Colts, Redskins, and Bears? I’m sure Denver’s John Elway is convinced he can be the one to turn Winston around.
And sit down for these Buccaneer fans. I’ll bet you dessert at Bern’s that if Winston becomes a free agent, the Patriots would kick the tires. Imagine this scenario: They re-sign Brady, Belichick signs Winston and lets him marinate and learn the Patriot Way for a couple of seasons. I’m sure Josh McDaniels believes he can make Winston right. I really didn’t mean to ruin your holidays, Buc fans!
Can’t Afford Not To
The Buccaneers may not want to pay the price tag for Winston. Yet, can they afford NOT to? Financial sense says the smart play is to cut ties and ride a rookie quarterback and his lower five-year cap hit in rebuilding this roster. Imagine that $90-million in cap room without almost a third going to a quarterback that has led the NFL in turnovers over his five years as a pro?
Somebody is going to cough up millions for Winston and deal with the flu symptoms. I imagine the Bucs are feeling a fever coming on.