Jameis Winston

Buccaneers Open To Jameis Winston Return

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston started three games for Tampa Bay after his return from suspension, and while he looked pretty good in beating up on the Falcons’ depleted secondary in Week 6, his Week 7 and 8 performances were awful. After throwing four interceptions in the team’s loss to the Bengals last week, Winston was benched in favor of veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Bucs try to cling to their playoff hopes.

Needless to say, the benching raised a lot of questions about Winston’s future with the club, questions that were already swirling in the wake of his off-field problems and his general inability to prove himself as a top-tier quarterback, despite flashes of the skills that made him the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft. But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says Winston has reacted well to his benching, and the team is open to giving him another shot this season.

Winston is under club control through the 2019 campaign via the fifth-year option, but since the option is guaranteed for injury only and comes at a hefty $20.9MM price tag, it is fair to wonder whether Tampa Bay would put him back under center this season and risk putting itself on the hook for that money. But Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the Bucs are adamant that Winston’s contract status will not impact what it feels is best for the club (and since head coach Dirk Koetter is very much on the hot seat, he will certainly not concern himself too much with the team’s future financial picture at this point).

Fitzpatrick, though he has played some excellent football this year, is a journeyman for a reason, so Winston could theoretically be reinserted into the lineup at anytime. Plus, La Canfora writes that the team made a point to reach out to Winston this week to explain that they still believe he can be a quality starting quarterback in this league.

At this point, however, all options, including an offseason trade — a possibility that La Canfora floated — are on the table.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers To Start Fitzpatrick, Bench Winston

The Fitzmagic is back in Tampa. On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback in Week 9 over Jameis Winston

Winston began the year by serving a multi-game suspension and Fitzpatrick made the most of the opportunity. At least, he did for a little while. Fitzpatrick led the Bucs to upset wins over the Saints and Eagles in his first two weeks and nearly got the W over the Steelers in Week 3. Things fell apart for the veteran in Week 4 against the Bears’ top-notch defense, putting Winston back into the lineup.

Unfortunately, the FSU product hasn’t fared well in recent weeks. On Sunday, Winston lobbed four interceptions and the Bucs offense only regained life when Fitzpatrick was called upon to lead the charge. The Bucs scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late as the Bengals won 37-34.

The decision to bench Winston may have ramifications beyond the 2018 season. The former No. 1 overall pick is tied to the team through 2019 through his fifth-year option, but that option is guaranteed for injury only. If the Bucs keep Winston on the pine, they can move on from him this offseason without the specter of a $20MM+ obligation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Winston, Manning, Bears, Cowboys

It’s been a rough year for Jameis Winston. First he was suspended for the first three games of the season, then briefly lost his starting job when Ryan Fitzpatrick played very well in relief. He quickly won the job back, but that appears to now be in jeopardy again. Winston was benched during the Buccaneers’ loss to the Bengals today after throwing four interceptions, including a crucial pick-six.

Fitzpatrick played very well in relief, and now it looks like Winston could be heading back to the bench. Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter deflected when asked after the game who would start next week, saying “today is not the day I have to decide that. I don’t have any problems making decisions and I’ll make it when the time is right”, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN (Twitter link). Usually if a coach was sticking with his current quarterback he would say so right after the game, so it sounds like Tampa Bay may be turning back to Fitzpatrick.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of quarterbacks being benched, Giants coach Pat Shurmur explicitly refused to rule out benching Eli Manning following the team’s bye week. Manning and the Giants offense had yet another rough week in their loss to the Redskins today, and Shurmur for the first time refused to back Manning in his post-game presser. When asked about the quarterback situation Shurmur, like Koetter, deflected and said “I don’t want to go there and I’m not going to tease that”, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN. It sounds like Manning could be headed to the bench, and if he does, it would likely be rookie Kyle Lauletta ascending to the starting position in New York.
  • The Bears got a big win over the Jets, but they didn’t escape the game unscathed. Starting right guard Kyle Long “suffered what appeared to be a serious right foot injury” during the game, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN. Dickerson writes that Long was on crutches after the game, and it sounds like he could miss a good chunk of time. Long is a three-time Pro Bowler, and his absence would be a massive downgrade to Chicago’s offensive line. Long has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, missing six games in 2017 and eight games in 2016.
  • Before executing the trade for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys conducted extensive background checks into him, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Dallas reached out to many people who knew Cooper in the past, including his college coach Nick Saban, and “the people who knew Cooper spoke glowingly about him”, sources told Schefter. The Cowboys made a heavy investment in Cooper, sending a first round pick to Oakland, so it makes sense why they’d do their due diligence.

NFC Rumors: P. Peterson, Winston, Peters

We heard last week that the Cardinals were at least willing to listen to trade offers for Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick, and while GM Steve Keim later threw cold water on those rumors, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Arizona is not only looking to deal Bucannon and Reddick, but that the team is also open to parting with star cornerback Patrick Peterson. Mike Jurecki of the team’s official website tweets that there is zero chance that the Cardinals move Peterson, but even if that’s the case, it seems apparent that the rebuilding Cards will be busy as we approach the October 30 trade deadline.

Now let’s take a look at a few more items out of the NFC:

  • Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Jameis Winston‘s job with the Buccaneers is pretty secure for the time being, but the rest of the season will be critical in determining Winston’s long-term future with the club. He is under club control through 2019 under the fifth-year option, but that option would cost the Bucs $20.9MM and is guaranteed for injury only, so if Winston performs poorly but remains healthy, Tampa Bay could conceivably cut ties after the 2018 season.
  • La Canfora reports that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tried to hire Falcons team president Rich McKay in recent years to oversee the league’s football operations, a department that has come under fire for its handling of Bountygate, Deflategate, and other scandals. However, the compensation committee, which has been trying to cut spending, would not authorize the creation of an expensive executive position like that, and there is nothing to indicate that anything will change in that regard, even if McKay were open to such a post (which he apparently was).
  • Eagles LT Jason Peters suffered a torn biceps against the Giants on Thursday night, but Rapoport tweets that Peters is expected to return and play this season and could miss just a game or two. While Peters has not been performing to his usual standards in 2018, this is still obviously great news for Philadelphia.
  • Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and cornerback Josh Norman have discussed the halftime incident that garnered some media attention earlier this week and have put the matter behind them, per Rapoport (video link). Rapoport says that Gruden stepped to the front of the locker room to address the team at halftime of Monday’s loss to the Saints, and Norman had his headphones on — as he always does at halftime — and had his back to Gruden, so did not know that the head coach had begun talking. Gruden took exception to what he perceived as a lack of attention and yanked the headphones of off Norman’s head, which obviously made Norman upset. Norman walked away from Gruden and was therefore benched to start the second half, but it does not sound as if this issue will be a lingering problem for the two men moving forward.
  • The Packers, at 2-2-1, are clearly not performing as well as they would like, and Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com has a couple of suggestions as to how Green Bay might shake things up. Dougherty believes the team should consider making a change at safety, either by giving Jermaine Whitehead a shot at starting or moving Bashaud Breeland into the rotation (when healthy), and he also believes Robert Tonyan should get more snaps at tight end.

Bucs To Start Jameis Winston

Fitzmagic is no more. On Monday, coach Dirk Koetter announced that Jameis Winston will be the Bucs’ starting quarterback when they face the Falcons in Week 6. 

[RELATED: Bucs’ O.J. Howard To Miss Time]

Winston was suspended for the first three games of the season and Fitzpatrick was stellar in his absence – at least through the first two games. Fitzpatrick had an up-and-down Week 3 against the Steelers and the wheels completely came off on Sunday against the Bears. When Winston took over, he outperformed the Harvard product by completing 16 of 20 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. Winston threw a pair of picks in the process, but he still looks like the more promising option of the two.

Winston is under club control through the 2019 season thanks to his fifth-year option. The option, guaranteed for injury only, is worth $20.9MM. If Winston plays well from here on out, the Bucs will have an easy call to make in the offseason. If he falters, Winston could hit the free agent market, where he can still cash in due to positional scarcity.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Bench Ryan Fitzpatrick For Jameis Winston

Active for the first time after serving his three-game suspension, it didn’t take long for Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to see the field. The former first-overall pick replaced starter Ryan Fitzpatrick during the second half of Tampa Bay’s loss to the Bears today.

The Buccaneers offense struggled mightily with Fitzpatrick in the game. Before being benched, the veteran quarterback had completed nine of his 18 pass attempts for only 126 yards. He also threw an interception and was sacked twice. Winston ended up finishing the game having completed 16 of his 20 pass attempts for 145 yards, one touchdown, and two picks. He also added a single seven-yard rush. After the game, head coach Dirk Koetter said Winston had probably done enough to earn the starting nod for his team’s Week 6 contest against the Falcons (via The Athletic’s Greg Auman on Twitter).

Fitzpatrick got off to a roaring start this season, as he compiled at least 400 passing yards and four touchdowns in each of his first two games. However, the 35-year-old threw three interceptions during last week’s loss to the Steelers, and Koetter admitted to his team that he almost replaced the veteran with backup Ryan Griffin.

Some wondered whether this was an attempt by the organization to lay the foundation for Winston’s inevitable return to the lineup. When the team announced that Fitzpatrick would be starting today’s game, they partly attributed the decision to the fact that Winston had had less than a week of practice under his belt. Koetter had previously said the coaching staff would reevaluate the quarterback position during the upcoming bye week.

While Fitzpatrick may have won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award following his performance in the Bucs’ first two games, it’s sounding like he’ll probably be riding the pine when the Bucs return to the field in Week 6.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Buccaneers’ QB Situation

Although the Buccaneers could not conjure quite enough FitzMagic to pull off a comeback win against the Steelers on Monday, Tampa Bay will start Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Bears this afternoon, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). This was the expected move given how well Fitzpatrick has generally played through the first three weeks of the season and in light of the fact that the team is on a short week this week.

Plus, we heard earlier this month that Fitzpatrick would remain under center for as long as he performs at a high level. But according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter told his team during a meeting on Wednesday that he was “one or two plays away” from lifting Fitzpatrick on Monday night in favor of backup Ryan Griffin. At the time Koetter was contemplating that move, Fitzpatrick had just thrown his third interception and the club was trailing Pittsburgh 23-7.

Koetter, of course, did not end up pulling Fitzpatrick, but the fact that he made his thought process known to his team took some Buccaneers by surprise. Some players simply took Koetter’s words at face value, but some wondered whether he was laying a foundation for Jameis Winston to return, perhaps as soon as Week 6 (Tampa Bay has a bye in Week 5). After all, the team still views Winston as its long-term quarterback, so it stands to reason that he will be under center at some point soon, even if Fitzpatrick continues to overachieve.

Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports that the Bucs will reassess their QB situation during their bye week, and that Koetter has informed Fitzpatrick and Winston of his plans. Koetter said, “We know what we’re going to do. Both guys know what we’re going to do. Hope everybody can appreciate that it doesn’t do us any good to tell our opponents what we’re going to do.”

Winston was not permitted to practice at the team facility during his suspension, but Laine writes that he brought in quarterbacks coaches George Whitfield and John Beck and longtime trainer Otis Leverette to help him maintain the same schedule he had with the Bucs, and the group conducted daily workouts with 25 free agents and former teammates.

Winston’s initiative impressed Koetter, who said, “Hats off to Jameis for putting together a group of guys to do what he did…Jameis is a quarterback, coach and GM all at the same time — perfect. I think there is a little adjustment period, and that’s one of the things we’re trying to move along as quickly as we can.”

Reading between the lines, it certainly seems as if Winston may be starting for the Bucs in Week 6.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston Hires Agent

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has hired agent Joel Segal of Lagardère Sports to represent him, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). He’ll be co-represented by Segal’s longtime colleague Greg Barnett, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter) adds. 

Winston dumped agents Greg Genske and Kenny Felder shortly after reaching a compromise with the league on his suspension. His three-game ban is now up, but his job may now belong to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is off to a scorching hot start through two games. If Fitzpatrick keeps the magic going on Monday night when the Bucs take on the Steelers, it could be a while before Winston sees the field again.

The Buccaneers control Winston’s rights through 2019 thanks to his $20.9MM fifth-year option, which is guaranteed for injury only. In theory, the Bucs could keep Winston on the shelf to avoid triggering the guarantee, but the club plans to reinsert him into the lineup whenever they feel it is in the team’s best interest to do so.

Winston understands that the Bucs can bail on him after the season, which made his agency decision all the more important. With an agent that has a wealth of NFL experience (as opposed to MLB experience), he’s arguably in better hands than before.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jameis Winston May Not Immediately Start Upon Return

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).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Move Roster To 53

The Buccaneers have made the following transactions as they move to 53 players:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

Released:

Placed on injured reserve:

Placed on NFI:

Placed on suspended list: