Jameis Winston

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).

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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:

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Winston, Saints

Earlier this month, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston dumped his agents. Apparently, he won’t have a hard time finding new representation. Winston is expected to get pitches from CAA, Athletes First (David Dunn), Joel Segal and other agents hoping to work with him, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

Winston reportedly fired Greg Genske and Kenny Felder because the bulk of their experience is in baseball. With one year to go on his rookie deal plus a 2019 fifth-year option worth $20.9MM (guaranteed for injury only), Winston reportedly wants to go with a tried and true football agency to help negotiate his next deal. Still, the timing of his switch was suspicious as it came just moments after Winston’s reps negotiated a settlement in which he will miss the first three games of the 2018 season for his alleged sexual misconduct with an Uber driver.

Many are wondering whether Winston will have a long-term future with the Buccaneers, but the league’s top agents clearly still believe in his prospects going forward.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Saints gave up their 2019 first-round pick to go from No. 27 to No. 14 this year, where they picked defensive end Marcus Davenport. It was a big gamble, but coach Sean Payton tells Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com that the opportunity to add Davenport was too good to pass up. “It’s something we felt that could help our team right now,” Payton said of the trade. “And obviously there is downside and you give up some compensation and you give up some flexibility next year. But we are worried about this year, too, and our focus is on winning this year, and that was the cost to move from where we were in the first round to getting really into a different part of that round.”
  • This week, the Falcons informed Julio Jones that they will not be giving him a new deal this year.
  • Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis sounds like he wants to play beyond 2018.

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Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston Changes Agents

After reaching a compromise with the league on his suspension, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has fired his agents, according to PFT. The change has been in the works for a few months, but the timing is still curious. 

Under the league’s personal conduct policy, Winston could have easily been suspended for up to six games after being accused of sexual assault. Instead, Winston’s reps – with help from the NFLPA – negotiated a settlement in which he will miss the first three games of the 2018 season. The suspension also comes with the caveat that Winston could be banned from the league if he commits another infraction.

According to one source, Winston simply wants agents with more experience in the NFL to negotiate his next contract. Winston, for now, is under team control for the next two years as he enters the final year of his original rookie deal plus his 2019 fifth-year option worth $20.9MM. His previous agents – Greg Genske and Kenny Felder – are well-known in the baseball world, but have yet to work out a football contract on this level.

It’s possible that bigger agents will want to steer clear of Winston given his damaged reputation, but the Bucs QB still has tremendous earning potential. If the former first round pick puts up career numbers in 13-game season, he could command a lucrative extension from the Bucs to put him near the top of the QB market.

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Suspension notes: Winston, Turbin, Colts, Darby

More information continues to trickle out about the suspensions handed down this week. One part of the Jameis Winston case that flew a bit under the radar was the involvement of Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby. When the allegations against Winston first surfaced last November, Darby came to Winston’s defense and insisted that Winston was innocent and said he was in the car during the Uber ride in question.

During the NFL’s investigation that followed, Darby reportedly backtracked. He told investigators he “no longer recalled” the Uber ride, per ProFootballTalk. Despite his initial defense of Winston and his now apparently conflicting statements, it looks like Darby is in the clear. An NFL spokesman told Aaron Kasinitz of PennLive that Darby “will not face punishment” from the league (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the recent suspensions:

  • Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star suspects that the Colts have known about Robert Turbin‘s four game suspension for a while. He notes that the team has deflected from talking about him all offseason and that the Colts have kept him away from the media (Twitter link).
  • Turbin’s suspension will cost him $235K according to Mike Chappell of Fox59. Chappell says “no one should understate the possible impact of Turbin’s absence” and writes that the Colts were counting on him to fill a big role with Frank Gore no longer with the team.
  • Between his base salary, portions of his signing bonus he’ll have to pay back, and loss of roster bonuses, Winston’s three game suspension will end up costing him a total of $1.14MM according to former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry (Twitter link). The total could rise to $1.42MM depending on how the roster bonuses are calculated, he notes.

NFL Could Ban Winston For Future Violation

The NFL has suspended Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of the 2018 regular season, but another violation of the league’s personal conduct policy could have much larger implications. In its announcement of the suspension, the NFL indicated that a future violation would result in “more substantial discipline, including a potential ban from the NFL.” 

Winston’s three-game ban was the outcome of negotiations between the NFL, NFLPA, and Winston’s camp. The league reserves the right to suspend players for six games for violations involving domestic violence, so it appears the league insisted on a compromise in which Winston would face more serious consequences if he commits another serious off-the-field transgression.

Lifetime bans are uncommon in the NFL, but they have been handed down in the past. Similarly, we’ve seen players hit with indefinite suspensions, as was the case with former Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington. It’s impossible to know right now whether the league’s stance on Winston is simply tough talk or if the NFL would actually levy a lifetime ban against Winston in the event of another personal conduct policy violation.

In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, the Buccaneers said they were “disappointed that [Winston] put himself in a position that has been found to violate the policy.” If Winston does not perform up to par in 2018, it’s conceivable that his off-the-field incident will factor into his future with the team. The Buccaneers exercised Winston’s fifth-year option for 2019 – worth nearly $21MM – but it is guaranteed for injury only.

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NFL Suspends Bucs QB Jameis Winston

The NFL has suspended Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of the 2018 season, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This was the expected outcome after the league wrapped its investigation earlier this month. 

Winston was alleged to have groped an Uber driver back in March 2016. The QB long denied any wrongdoing, but he took at least some responsibility for his actions in a statement issued on Thursday.

The NFL informed me today that I will be suspended for the first three games of the season. First and foremost, I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in,” Winston said. “It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. In the past two-and-a-half years, my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life. I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me.

I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself. I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.”

The suspension was the result of the settlement talks between the NFL, NFLPA, and his Winston’s representatives, Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter) hears. That means there will be no appeal on Winston’s behalf. Per league rules, Winston will be able to participate in team activities, including the preseason, until the suspension begins in September.

The three-game ban will keep Winston off of the field as the Buccaneers start the season against the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers. Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will try to navigate the team through those difficult games before Winston is eligible to return in Week 4 against the Bears.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Winston, Buccaneers, Saints, Yelder, Browner

With the news of Jameis Winston‘s impending suspension from the NFL, lots has been written about Winston’s future with the Buccaneers. One potentially unexplored angle is how Winston’s fate may tie into the fate of Bucs GM Jason Licht and the team’s head coach Dirk Koetter, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Florio speculates that the team may be more likely to move on from Winston if they decide to fire Licht and/or Koetter at the end of the 2018 season.

Koetter reportedly came very close to being fired at the end of the 2017 season, but was ultimately given another year by ownership. Florio thinks it would be easier for the franchise to move on from Winston if they cleaned house completely, and had a front office with no ties to Winston make the decision to release him. Winston is set to make $20.9MM under his fifth-year option in 2019. It’s guaranteed only for injury, meaning the Bucs could release him after this season and not have to pay him anything, assuming he stays healthy. Whatever ends up happening, it looks like it could be a tumultuous year in Tampa Bay.

Here’s more from around the league:

Witness: Jameis Winston Was In Uber Vehicle Alone With Accuser

Another revelation came out of the Jameis Winston saga on Friday, and it could be viewed as damaging for the Buccaneers quarterback.

Mark Scruggs, attorney for a friend of Winston’s, Brandon Banks, said Winston did get into the car alone with the unnamed Uber driver that night in March 2016, when the accuser said Winston groped her. This came after the then-22-year-old quarterback was directed by friends to the Uber after being “unruly” at a Scottsdale, Ariz., nightclub. Scruggs said Banks saw an “intoxicated” Winston get into the car alone, which contradicts Ronald Darby‘s account that Winston was never alone with the driver, ESPN.com’s Paula Lavigne reports.

Banks, Winston and Darby were at the Scottsdale nightclub that night. This is the first time Banks, a former Vanderbilt football player, has been identified as being at the scene, Lavigne reports. Banks is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence after being found guilty of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual assault in June 2017 for an incident that occurred at Vanderbilt in 2013. Banks was awaiting trial in March of 2016.

Scruggs told ESPN that Winston, Darby and Banks were in a separate Uber that night, but that the driver who made the accusation against Winston was the one who picked him up from the nightclub. Banks did not confirm the driver’s account, though, since he was not in that particular Uber car. The driver said she and Winston were the only passengers.

It appeared that Winston was trying to lay this on Brandon,” Scruggs said, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, regarding his client’s reason for coming forward. “They were together that night. They took an Uber to a club, the three of them did, and Brandon said nothing whatsoever happened while the three of them were in the Uber. … For whatever reason, they felt they needed to put (Winston), escort him into an Uber so he could go home on his own. There’s two different Uber rides is what we’re talking about.”

Winston’s camp said the Uber driver was confused as to the number of people in the vehicle, and Darby said last year that he and Winston were in the backseat. The NFL is expected to suspend Winston for at least three games and did not view Darby’s account as entirely credible.

Some with the Buccaneers, and some close to Winston outside of the team, are “struggling to fathom” that he groped an Uber driver, Mike Jones of USA Today notes. But considering Winston’s past, most notably the 2012 rape accusation, the new information coming out about the March 2016 night makes it more likely Winston will serve at least a three-game suspension. And it could cloud his future with the Bucs.

Tampa Bay picked up the 24-year-old passer’s fifth-year option in May, but that $20.9MM 2019 salary is guaranteed for injury only. Now that he’s expected to miss the Bucs’ first three games, there will be immense pressure on the former No. 1 overall pick to shake the on-field inconsistency and while obviously avoid any additional off-field trouble.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston‘s suspension is not yet final, but the Buccaneers quarterback is expected to be banned for at least the first three games of this season. And the NFL looks to have determined the Ronald Darby explanation didn’t hold water, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (video link).

Shortly after the unnamed accuser’s account of Winston groping her surfaced last November, Darby, who played with the former Heisman Trophy winner at Florida State, came forward with an explanation to help Winston. The veteran cornerback said he was in the car with Winston, with both Seminoles-turned-NFLers sitting in the backseat the entire time during the ride.

There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported,” Darby said in November. “Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true.”

However, the NFL did not ultimately accept Darby’s explanation. The investigation, Garafolo reports, determined Darby was not in the vehicle during the entire trip. It’s not certain when Winston and Darby’s paths crossed that night in Arizona, but Garafolo reports the NFL believes there were multiple legs to this trip and does not believe both Winston and Darby were together in the car the whole time.

The league also examined electronic communications from the parties involved in the alleged incident that night in March 2016, with Garafolo noting this likely played a key role in Winston’s expected suspension.

As of now, Winston would be in line to miss a difficult part of Tampa Bay’s schedule. The Saints, Eagles and Steelers are the first three teams on the Bucs’ docket. Garafolo confirmed a Thursday-night report that more games could be tacked onto this based on certain conditions. The Bucs will face the Bears, Falcons and Browns from Weeks 4-6.

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