Jameis Winston

Bucs Exercise Jameis Winston’s Option

The Buccaneers have exercised the fifth-year option on Jameis Winston‘s original rookie contract. The decision was not due until May 3, but the Bucs did not need to take this decision to the wire. 

Winston was less than perfect in 2017, but this was still a fairly easy call for the Bucs to make. Even though Winston went 3-10 as a starter last year, he performed as a better-than-average starting QB and continues to show potential. Across three years in the league, Winston has thrown for 11,636 passing yards, 69 touchdown passes, and 44 interceptions. The Florida State product, who recently turned 24, is the second-youngest passer in NFL history to top 10,000 passing yards. Before his birthday, his 69 touchdown passes set the new watermark for any NFL QB at the age of 23.

Per the terms of the CBA, the fifth-year option is equal to the average of the top 10 salaries in the previous year. The Bucs and Winston will also have the opportunity to hammer out a new long-term extension before the option year kicks in.

The fifth-year option also comes with an escape hatch for NFL teams. The additional year is guaranteed for injury only, so the Bucs can back out if Winston’s performance declines for non-health reasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Notes: Brees, McCarron, Winston

Last offseason, the Bengals offered quarterback AJ McCarron to the Jets. The team ultimately declined the trade, but ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini believes the organization could have more interest in the free agent this offseason.

The writer believes McCarron is the team’s backup plan to Kirk Cousins, and he anticipates that the 2014 fifth-rounder will receive a deal that exceeds Mike Glennon‘s three-year, $45MM contract ($18.5MM guaranteed) from last year. Ultimately, considering the Jets would have to invest in a quarterback with only three career starts, Cimini believes the team would be better off rolling with Josh McCown for another season.

Let’s take a look at some more quarterback notes from around the NFL…

  • March 14th is essentially the deadline for the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees to come to an agreement on a new contract, writes ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. The final three seasons of the veteran’s contract will void on that day, and if they wish to keep Brees for another season, they’d be required to tolerate his salary and his “$18 million worth of signing bonus prorated on this year’s salary cap.”
  • Meanwhile, Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com says if Brees ends up reaching free agency, the Browns could be a serious suitor. The team is rostering a talented wideout in Josh Gordon and a veteran tackle in Joe Thomas, and they’re armed with $110MM in cap space and several alluring draft picks. While Brees may not want to consider an organization that just completed a winless season, the writer believes a one-year, $50MM might not be out of the question.
  • Until he inks a new deal, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com will continue to regard Brees as the top free agent quarterback. The writer rounds out his list of the top signal-callers with Cousins, Case Keenum, McCarron, and Sam Bradford.
  • Jameis Winston will surely receive a hefty payday from the Buccaneers, but Rick Stroud of TampaBay.com wonders if the new deal “will cost the Bucs more than money.” Considering the type of deal Winston will sign, the writer wonders if the contract could limit the organization’s ability to extend several of their young core players. As a result, Stroud believes the team should make it a priority to sign receiver Mike Evans, center Ali Marpet, tackle Donovan Smith and linebacker Kwon Alexander to new deals as soon as possible.

Job Security A Distraction For Bucs’ Koetter

After leading Tampa Bay to a 9-7 record in his first season as head coach, Dirk Koetter and the Buccaneers entered the 2017 season as breakout favorites in the NFC. Things have not gone according to plan, however, with the Buccaneers sitting at 4-11 entering the final week of the season. The dismal display has prompted talks about the coach’s future with the team, which have been a distraction in recent weeks, Koetter admitted to reporters including ESPN’s Jenna Laine on Tuesday. Dirk Koetter (vertical)

“It’s your life, it’s your life. It’s what you do. So just flip it around. Of course it is,” Koetter said. “But we all as players and coaches, we’re paid to do a job, and you try to do it to the best of our ability. That’s all you can do.”

His job security is not the only thing serving as a distraction in Tampa Bay at the moment. Koetter acknowledged that a screaming fit happened during the team’s Week 16 loss vs. the Panthers, with quarterback Jameis Winston and linebacker Kwon Alexander confronting defensive lineman Chris Baker about his late penalty that set up Carolina for the game-winning score and his lack of remorse for committing the infraction.

Koetter played off the incident by saying, “Emotions [were] running, and that game — we had a lot of nice opportunities to win, [but] we didn’t do it. No one’s happy about that. A shouting match … I don’t think that would be the first or last time that’s ever happened.”

Though his influence in the locker room appears to be dissipating, Koetter said he has no fears of having lost the team. With the disappointing season almost in the books, the Buccaneers appear like they could be looking for a new coach in the near future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jameis Winston Addresses Rift With Koetter

On Sunday, reports surfaced from NFL.com’s Ian Rappoport that the relationship between Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter was “not in a good place.” Winston addressed the reports before the team’s Week 15 showdown with Atlanta, saying, “there’s nothing to see here,” according to NFL.com’s Jeremy BergmanJameis Winston (vertical)

Winston told reporters, including the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud (Twitter link), “When you lose, people are always trying to find something to nitpick and nag at, and definitely attacking the relationship of a head coach and a quarterback is a way to get this locker room in a panic. We don’t condone that at all.”

Rappoport attributed the fractured relationship to Winston not feeling supported properly when he was playing through an injury early in the season. Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken added his own thoughts to the source of the issue:

“You know what the strain is? The frustration of being 4-9. That’s a frustration. When you put everything into it, what you’ve got is a quarterback that’s very competitive, a guy that wants to be great and has had a frustrating year, probably some things on and off the field, and a head coach that does an unbelievable job coaching our players and quarterback. And that becomes news? Holy cow! News flash! We’ve got a strain in our relationship. There’s not one person that can’t say that’s ever happened before. That is a flat-out joke that that even becomes news.”

The Buccaneers entered the 2017 season with high hopes thanks to a young offense that appeared on the verge of breaking out. That hasn’t happened and it is easy to see why the team’s star quarterback would be frustrated. Whether the stain is the record or the lack of support, it’s a story that might not go away too soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rodgers, Bucs, Eli

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will undergo a CT scan this week to determine if he will be medically cleared to return to game action, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). Rodgers has been practicing since December 2, and Rapoport says the star quarterback has looked incredible on the field. However, Rodgers’ return will depend on how his surgically-repaired collarbone is healing. Green Bay has been hoping for No. 12 to suit up for next week’s game against Carolina, and there is a very good chance that will happen.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Per Rapoport, the relationship between Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter and quarterback Jameis Winston is not in a good place, and part of that tension stems from Koetter’s predictable play-calling. Indeed, as ESPN’s Jenna Laine tweets, defensive assistants from opposing clubs have said that Tampa Bay’s offense is as predictable as it gets. Koetter, though, could be fired at the end of the season, so the team may not have to deal with that strained relationship much longer.
  • The Giants intend to start Eli Manning not just this week, but going forward as well, per Rapoport (video link). The team’s prior plan to get rookie Davis Webb an extended look is on hold indefinitely, though New York still wants to give him a shot a some point. We also learned earlier today that Dave Gettleman has emerged as the frontrunner for the team’s GM job.
  • The Vikings were among the most vocal of the teams speaking out this week against the perceived inconsistencies in punishments doled out by the league, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Minnesota safety Andrew Sendejo was suspended for a game earlier this year due to a hit he delivered on Ravens’ wideout Mike Wallace — and that suspension was upheld on appeal — but when Bengals safety George Iloka had his suspension for a similar hit reduced on appeal this week, Vikings officials were quickly on the phone with the league office.
  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell‘s contract expires at the end of 2018, so his contract status will not impact his future with the team.

NFC South Notes: Winston, Panthers, Saints

Jameis Winston is on track to return for the Buccaneers this weekend after missing time with a shoulder injury. But the third-year quarterback potentially has another battle to fight off the field. An Uber driver accused Winston of sexual assault, and although he’s denied the allegation, the NFL’s launched an investigation that is expected to carry over into the offseason. Thursday, Winston was asked if he’s worried a suspension would come his way. The Bucs quarterback (via the Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Auman, on Twitter) said he has “no fear at all.” ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this month many around the league expect the Winston proceedings to become a contentious process.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South.

  • Ron Rivera is comfortable playing Greg Olsen on Sunday even if he doesn’t practice this week, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets, adding the Panthers‘ Pro Bowl tight end’s rest thus far during the practice week is “precautionary.” Olsen aggravated the foot injury that sidelined him for most of this season on Sunday and returned this to see the Charlotte-stationed foot specialist who performed his surgery, Person reports (on Twitter). Olsen did not re-fracture his foot, per Person, but has a pain-tolerance decision to make before playing. He’s uncertain to face the Saints, who have their own issues at tight end.
  • Coby Fleener will not play in Sunday’s pivotal matchup with the Panthers. The Saints tight end is in concussion protocol and is week-to-week, but he’s not going to be ready for Week 13, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The NFL insider notes this unfortunate setback could linger for Fleener. While not a high-end threat in the Saints’ passing game, Fleener has suited up in all 11 Saints contests this season. Backup Josh Hill has just nine receptions this year.
  • Willie Snead has joined Fleener as a bit player in New Orleans’ passing game, being well off his paces set the past two seasons. The third-year wideout admitted he is frustrated about his current role, one that has him at just three receptions for 32 yards, Amos Morale III of NOLA.com notes. Snead served a three-game suspension and missed multiple games due to injury, but for an exclusive-rights free agent that came into training camp wanting an amended contract, Snead is having a disastrous season for that prospect. He caught 69 and 72 passes the past two years, respectively, and approached 1,000 yards in each. Snead will be a restricted free agent in 2018.
  • It will take a contract similar to the one the Panthers authorized for Trai Turner to keep the Turner-Andrew Norwell guard tandem intact long-term, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes. The recent rise in guard money figures to benefit Norwell, a UFA-to-be and possibly set to be the top guard available on next year’s market. The franchise tag won’t be an option for Carolina, considering the system groups all offensive linemen together, and Corry writes Norwell could exceed Kevin Zeitler‘s guard-record five-year, $60MM pact.

Jameis Winston Expected To Start In Week 13

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will return to practice on Wednesday and is expected to start when Tampa Bay faces Green Bay on Sunday, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).Jameis Winston (vertical)

Winston has missed the Bucs’ past three contest after suffering a shoulder injury against the Saints in Week 9. In eight starts, the 23-year-old Winston has been mediocre: he’s completed 61.4% of his passes for 10 touchdowns and six interceptions, and ranks 19th in quarterback rating and 16th in adjusted net yards per attempt. Off the field, Winston is in the midst of another incident, as he’s reportedly under investigation for groping an Uber driver in 2016. If Winston does return to action in Week 13, he’ll do without two starting offensive lineman, as both Ali Marpet and Demar Dotson were placed on injured reserve earlier today.

With Winston returning, veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick will head back to the bench after leading Tampa Bay to a 2-1 record in three starts. Fitzpatrick completed 58.9% of his passes for 1,103 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions during his time as the Buccaneers’ starter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rodgers, Stafford, Bucs

Despite the Packers falling behind in the NFC playoff picture, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was seen throwing the ball around prior to the start of the team’s Sunday night game in Pittsburgh. Now with Rodgers clearly progressing well, the soon-to-be 34-year-old may be ready to return to practice at the end of next week, reports Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Demovsky passed along that head coach Mike McCarthy dodged a question about if he expected his starting QB to return this season. The earliest date Rodgers could be activated off the injured reserve would be in Week 15.

  • Fellow NFC North signal, Lions QB Matthew Stafford suffered an injury of his own on Thanksgiving, but appears to be “feeling better”, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The injury appeared to be more serious, but is being classified as a sprained ankle by team doctors. “I’m feeling better,” Stafford said after practice on Monday. “Obviously stuck around in town this weekend, got a bunch of treatment on it. We’ll see. Coach (Jim Caldwell) will put out that report on Wednesday or whatever it is for practice and all that kind of stuff, but it’s getting better and hopefully it’ll continue to get better.” Obviously, the franchise quarterback will not be 100% healthy entering Week 13, but he’s fought through injuries before and it looks like he’ll be healthy enough to take on the Ravens this Sunday.
  • Despite an earlier report that Mississippi State may be targeting Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken for their heading coaching vacancy, Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter hasn’t heard anything about school’s interest, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). “To my knowledge, Todd Monken has not been contacted by Mississippi State. That comes from his mouth to my ear.” While the interest may be more in the gathering stage at this point, expect to hear some NFL assistants get some looks from schools as jobs open up. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is reportedly garnering interest in Arizona State’s open head coach position.
  • On the field, Stroud also reports that QB Jameis Winston could begin throwing again at practice this week, and could get enough work to start vs. the Packers this weekend. This would be a positive development for the third-year signal caller as he’s missed the team’s last three games with a shoulder injury. While the news is positive, Winston is also dealing with an NFL investigation off the field regarding a sexual assault allegation that stems from when Winston rode in an Uber last year.

NFC Notes: Jenkins, Winston, Seahawks

The Giants‘ disastrous 2017 season keeps getting worse. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, New York cornerback Janoris Jenkins has been playing for the last two months with a “debilitating” ankle injury that has limited his ability to cut and change direction (which certainly could explain why he has regressed this year after enjoying a strong 2016 campaign, his first with Big Blue). Schefter says that Jenkins will need to undergo ankle surgery at some point, and doctors are scheduled to discuss the matter tomorrow. It sounds as if Jenkins will be shut down so that he can have the surgery, which makes plenty of sense given that the Giants do not have anything to play for this year.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Schefter reports that the NFL has already spoken with Buccaneers head of security, Andres Trescastro, as part of its investigation into the most recent sexual assault accusations leveled against Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. Schefter says the conversation was more introductory and exploratory in nature, and that the league’s investigation is not expected to be wrapped up by the end of the season (which is hardly surprising).
  • Winston, of course, is also battling a shoulder injury, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) reports that the Buccaneers signal-caller received platelet-rich plasma injections several weeks ago and is rapidly improving. However, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com cautions that Winston receives an MRI every week, and last week’s MRI revealed he was still not ready to return to practice, despite the PRP injection. Taking reps in practice will be the next step for Winston.
  • Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll indicated that there will soon be more clarity on the injuries to defensive stalwarts Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Avril is battling a serious stinger and numbness in his arm that was initially reported to be career-threatening, while Chancellor is contending with a neck injury that will likely sideline him for the rest of the year, though Carroll recently kept the door open on a return for his star safety.
  • Seahawks left guard Luke Joeckel, who has missed the last five games following arthroscopic knee surgery, is expected to return to action for today’s matchup with the 49ers, as Brady Henderson of ESPN.com writes.
  • The Cowboys have waived Darren McFadden, and Ed Werder names the Seahawks as a potential fit for the former first-round pick (Twitter link). As Werder observes, Seattle is the only ream in the league without a running back that has rushed for 250 or more yards, making a McFadden-Seahawks marriage eminently plausible.
  • In addition to shakeups at cornerback and the rest of their roster, the Cowboys are looking at potential changes to their safety positions as well, as Clarence Hill, Jr. of the Star-Telegram tweets.

NFC Notes: Bears, Floyd, Redskins, Pryor

Bears coach John Fox says linebacker Leonard Floyd is going to miss some time, but he would not commit to putting Floyd on injured reserve when speaking to reporters on Monday (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune). That’s because the team believes that he does not have a torn ACL, so a return later in the year is still possible. All in all, it’s good news for Floyd after he was carted off the field in Sunday’s loss to the Lions.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is getting arthroscopic surgery on his ankle, a source tells Mike Jones of the Washington Post (on Twitter). Doctors should have a better idea of his recovery timetable after he goes under the knife. Pryor, a big free agent signing, has yet to really shine in Washington. To date, he has 20 catches for 240 yards with one touchdown in nine games.
  • Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston‘s shoulder was re-evaluated today and he is not ready to return, head coach Dirk Koetter tells reporters (Twitter link via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com). Winston will be out this week against the Falcons, but doctors will check him out next week.
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says Blaine Gabbert will start again this week (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). The plan, he says, is to stick with him until Drew Stanton is totally healthy. Gabbert completed 22-of-34 of his passes for 257 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, both occurring late in the game. He did a solid job overall, but the Cardinals wound up falling short and falling to 4-6 on the year.
  • Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The injury does not appear to be a season-ender, but he may miss multiple games.