While this may seem like overreaction to one strong performance against a suspect defensive unit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Ryan Fitzpatrick may remain the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback even when Jameis Winston returns from suspension after the team’s Week 3 matchup against the Steelers.
But that may have more to do with logistics than anything else. The Week 3 game is a Monday night contest, so Rapoport suggests that the Bucs could simply keep Fitzpatrick as the starter for Week 4 rather than have Winston make his 2018 debut on a short week.
However, Rapoport does say that Fitzpatrick’s run as the Bucs’ starting signal-caller could last for as long as he is playing well, and if he continues to perform as he did in his season-opening mastery of the Saints — which resulted in NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors — that would give Tampa Bay time to ease Winston into the flow of the season.
It is important to note that the Bucs continue to view Winston as their long-term quarterback. Obviously, the veteran journeyman Fitzpatrick is no threat to dethrone Winston on a permanent basis, and Tampa Bay is excited to see what Winston can do when he does return to the field with a talented set of receivers and new play-caller Todd Monken.
Rapoport also writes that Winston’s $20.9MM fifth-year option for 2019, guaranteed for injury only, will not have any bearing on when he returns. The Bucs will not keep their former No. 1 overall pick on the shelf to avoid triggering that guarantee, and they fully intend to reinsert Winston into the starting lineup as soon as they feel it is in their best interest to do so (which may still be in Week 4).
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