Jameis Winston

QB Notes: Rivers, Tannehill, Jags, Winston

Philip Rivers‘ disappointing season has led to speculation the Chargers will seek an upgrade in free agency or the draft. But GM Tom Telesco said (via Daniel Popper of The Athletic, on Twitter) this week he still believes the 38-year-old quarterback can compete at a “top-starter level.” Rivers has bounced back from down seasons before, even winning 2013’s comeback player of the year award after merely coming back from a rough 2012 slate. But the free agent-to-be is much closer to the end of his career and has acknowledged Week 17 may have been his final Bolts game. The Chargers aim to get the Rivers situation sorted out before the 2020 league year begins March 18, Telesco adds (Twitter link). Tyrod Taylor is still under contract, and while Telesco called the ex-Bills starter a capable first-stringer (Twitter link via ESPN’s Eric Williams), promoting the 30-year-old veteran would not be viewed as an upgrade.

Here is the latest from the quarterback landscape:

  • A franchise tag may be in the cards for Ryan Tannehill, but the Titans are convinced his change-of-scenery breakout is legit. The Titans believe the 31-year-old passer is a “huge part of their future” and want to sign him to a long-term extension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The prospect of a Tannehill re-up initially surfaced in late November, and the sides have begun negotiations. It would cost Tennessee approximately $27MM to use its franchise tag on Tannehill. With Derrick Henry and right tackle Jack Conklin also up for free agency, it would behoove the Titans to have Tannehill locked down before the March 10 deadline. Of course, Tannehill’s Dolphins history makes such a commitment risky.
  • The Jaguars will not commit to Gardner Minshew as their clear-cut starter going into the offseason. Doug Marrone said Minshew and Nick Foles will compete for the job, per John Reid of the Florida Times-Union. The Jags gave Foles $50MM guaranteed in 2018; his 2020 salary is fully guaranteed.
  • Jameis Winston may have been playing through a more significant thumb injury than initially believed. The Buccaneers quarterback is now wearing a cast, per Rapoport (on Twitter). Winston threw his usual variety of interceptions before the thumb injury surfaced but tossed four in Week 16 against the Texans after being on the Bucs’ injury report with the malady. The soon-to-be 26-year-old passer will be a free agent in March.

Bucs, Jameis Winston Have Not Had Contract Talks

Yesterday, we heard from Jenna Laine of ESPN.com that Buccaneers brass is undecided on what to do with quarterback Jameis Winston, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Laine reported that members of Tampa’s front office have gone back and forth on the enigmatic signal-caller, unsure if he is the right person to key a return to competitiveness.

And as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, there have been no contract discussions of any kind between the Bucs and Winston. Given his uncertain standing within the organization, that makes some sense, but it’s somewhat curious that Tampa hasn’t at least reached out to Winston’s camp to see what kind of deal he’s looking for.

However, Florio says the fact that no conversations have taken place does not mean that the team necessarily plans to move on from Winston. All options remains on the table, including a long-term deal, a bridge contract, or even a franchise or transition tag. The Bucs and their former No. 1 overall pick will engage in talks after the season to determine if there is a mutually agreeable arrangement to be reached. While recent reports suggested that the team planned to retain Winston, it doesn’t sound as if that is set in stone.

Seemingly every game he plays, Winston shows flashes of brilliance emblematic of his draft status, but he struggles to avoid head-scratching and crippling turnovers. He is all but certain to crack 5,000 yards passing for the first time in his career in the Bucs’ season finale against Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, and he has thrown for a career-high 31 TDs. But he also leads the league in interceptions (28), and if he throws two interceptions versus the Falcons, he will become the first player in history to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 picks in the same season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Winston, Brown, Olsen

Buccaneers decision makers have faced one looming question at the quarterback position this season: Is Jameis Winston their franchise quarterback? Jenna Laine of ESPN chronicles the situation and details the organization’s biggest upcoming off-season decisions. Per Laine, members of the Tampa Bay organization have gone back and fourth on their belief in Winston and just a few weeks ago, some brass were “absolutely ready to be done with Winston,” however, the enigmatic quarterback has led the Bucs on a four-game winning streak and has changed some opinions.

While Winston’s play helped make his case, it also limited Tampa’s options at finding a replacement. Top quarterback prospects Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are unlikely to be attainable for the Bucs in the draft now that they are unlikely to have a top-15 pick. There are a number of potential free agent options at the position, but Winston’s pedigree and relative youth likely means he’ll be back in Tampa.

Here’s some other notes from around the NFC South:

  • Wide receiver Antonio Brown was not alone when he arrived in New Orleans for his workout with the Saints this week, according to Mike Garafolo on Good Morning Football. The four-time all-pro was accompanied by his entourage and a camera crew during the process. Brown has been mired in controversy surrounding his locker room antics in Pittsburgh, his strange decisions with the Raiders, and multiple allegations of sexual and behavioral misconduct that led to his release from the Patriots. No one denies his talent, but it remains unlikely any team will sign him this season.
  • While the future of quarterback Cam Newton will be the biggest offseason story in Carolina, longtime Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will be deciding between retiring or returning next season. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the former may impact the latter. Newton and Olsen made one of the best quarterback-tight end combinations from 2014-16 and Yates believes Olsen is less likely to walk away from another chance to play with Newton.

Bucs Intend To Bring Back Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston will likely remain in Tampa Bay for the 2020 season. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Buccaneers are expected to bring back the quarterback next season.

However, it’s uncertain how the organization will go about retaining the former first-overall pick. “Barring an unlikely early contract,” Rapoport notes that the Buccaneers will have the option of using either the franchise tag or the transition tag (this is thanks to it being the final offseason of the current CBA). If an opposing team signs a franchised player to an offer sheet, they have to surrender a pair of first-rounders. An opposing team doesn’t need to send compensation if they sign a transition-tagged player to an offer sheet.

This is especially relevant for the Buccaneers, as sack-leader Shaquil Barrett is also set to hit free agency this offseason. As Rapoport notes, the projected franchise tag for quarterbacks is $27MM vs. $25MM for the transition tag. Meanwhile, the franchise tag for linebackers (and, presumably, Barrett) is $16MM vs. the $14MM transition tag.

Earlier this month, coach Bruce Arians refused to commit to Winston beyond this season. And, when asked about the above report, Arians said no determinations have been made.

There’s been no decision on any player. We don’t make those decisions until the end of the season,” Arians said.

However, a bit has changed over the past few weeks. The quarterback has thrown for more than 400 yards in back-to-back games, and Tampa Bay can extend their winning streak to five against the Texans today. Winston has already set career-highs in passing yards (4,573) and touchdowns (30), but he’s also set a new mark in interceptions (24).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs WR Mike Evans Out For Season

DEC. 11: This is not surprising given the earlier reports and the fact that the Bucs are out of playoff contention, but Evans is expected to be shut down for the season, as Laine reports.

DEC. 9: The Buccaneers are dealing with injuries to some of their top offensive players, and it sounds like one of them will struggle to return this season. Coach Bruce Arians told reporters that wideout Mike Evans will miss at least a few weeks as he recovers from his hamstring injury.

“It’s not good,” Arians said (via ESPN’s Jenna Laine). “I’ll be shocked if Mike makes it back before the last week.”

Evans suffered the injury on his 61-yard touchdown in the first quarter of yesterday’s win over the Colts. The receiver initially fell to the turf in pain before limping to the sideline. Fortunately, Laine tweets that there’s no tear in the hamstring, and Evans is just dealing with a pull. The 26-year-old is having another standout season, hauling in 67 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. Justin Watson filled in for Evans, with the former fifth-rounder snagging his first career touchdown.

Meanwhile, Jameis Winston suffered a hairline fracture of his thumb. The quarterback managed to finish the game, throwing for a career-high 456 yards and four touchdowns (to go along with one rushing touchdown… and four interceptions). Arians implied that Winston would likely sit out practice this week but probably won’t miss any games.

“They X-rayed his thumb,” Arians said. “He’s got a little-bitty fracture. Nothing serious. He was able to get his strength back to come back in.”

Ryan Griffin played a series while Winston was sidelined. The Tulane product would likely get the start if Winston misses any time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bruce Arians Won’t Commit To Jameis Winston Beyond 2019

While Bruce Arians said in November that Jameis Winston had a “really good chance” of landing a Buccaneers extension, if he played well down the stretch, the first-year Tampa Bay HC will not fully commit to it.

Asked Wednesday if Winston is in the franchise’s post-2019 plans, Arians said (via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com) he will push that response until the end of the season. Winston’s contract expires at season’s end. Tampa Bay’s front office has not made a decision on Winston yet, Laine notes. Though it certainly helps that the GM who drafted Winston, Jason Licht, recently signed a contract extension.

I’m gonna pass on that one,” Arians said. “I’m gonna wait until the end of December. … There’s been really, really, really good and there’s been some really, really bad. I’m gonna pass until it’s over and then we’ll make a decision.”

Turnover-prone throughout his career, Winston has thrown a career-high 20 interceptions this season. A former Heisman Trophy recipient, Winston has committed an NFL-most 101 turnovers since 2015 but has also thrown 22 touchdown passes this season.

By not extending the 25-year-old quarterback, the Bucs would obviously be set to start over at the game’s premier position. If the season ended today, Tampa Bay would hold the 13th overall pick in next year’s draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Mack, Tagovailoa, Winston

The latest key injury updates:

  • The Colts picked up a big win over the Jaguars on Sunday, but they’ll be without a key part of their offense for at least a little while. Running back Marlon Mack fractured his hand in the win over Jacksonville, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport says that Mack won’t play on Thursday night in a key divisional game against the Texans, and that “it’s up in the air beyond that.” Mack had been the team’s workhorse on offense, regularly garnering 20+ carries. Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins will both see an uptick in work in the meantime.
  • Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is done for the year with a hip injury, and there were instant fears that it could put his career in jeopardy. It’ll be a while before we know one way or the other, but the program released a new statement Sunday night that again expressed optimism. Tagovailoa is being transported to Houston to undergo surgery on his hip Monday, team surgeon Lyle Cain said in a statement, via Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News (Twitter link). Cain said that they “anticipate a full recovery,” which is great news.
  • Bengals receiver Auden Tate went down with a scary neck injury and had to be carted off the field, but fortunately it looks like he’s going to be alright. Tate had rejoined to team and was on their flight back from Oakland, a source told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Pelissero said all tests were negative and that while he’ll be evaluated again tomorrow, “all signed” indicated that he “avoided major injury.” With A.J. Green still sidelined, Tate has been playing a huge role on offense for Cincy as they still search for their first win of the season.
  • Jameis Winston picked up a left ankle injury in the Buccaneers’ loss to the Saints, and he was limping pretty badly toward the end of the game. Speaking to the media after the loss, head coach Bruce Arians said that he was about to go to backup Ryan Griffin, and that he should’ve, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Winston was able to convince Arians to let him go back in, but the head coach apparently regretted the decision. Winston told reporters after the game that he’ll be alright moving forward.

Bucs’ Bruce Arians On Jameis Winston

Given his recent performance, there’s a “really good chance” that quarterback Jameis Winston could land a new contract if he keeps things up, head coach Bruce Arians tells Peter King of NBC Sports

He’s taken us down the field to win or tie the game the last two weeks in the last two minutes,” Arians said. “That’s the maturity of a young quarterback you’re looking for. If he plays like he has the last two weeks for the rest of the season, I’d say there’s a really good chance.”

Winston is currently playing out the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Heading into the season, there were tons of questions about Winston’s future in Tampa, but he could be playing his way into a lucrative new deal that would keep him with the club in 2020 and beyond.

Of course, this hasn’t been a banner year for the Bucs, nor has it been a tremendous season for Winston on the whole. The Bucs are 3-6 and Winston has thrown for 17 touchdowns against 14 interceptions – plus ten fumbles. Still, he’s showing serious signs of life. On

The Buccaneers continue to underachieve, with a record of 3-6 through nine games. And questions continue to swirl regarding whether quarterback Jameis Winston will continue to be the team’s quarterback after 2019. Still, the Bucs eeked out a win over the Cardinals on Sunday and they managed to take the Seahawks into overtime in the previous week, thanks in part to the former No. 1 overall pick.

Arians, in Year One as the Bucs head coach, is encouraged by what he’s seen so far. There’s also this to consider: It’s nearly impossible to find high-end quarterback in the free agent market and the Bucs currently project to pick outside of the Top 5 in the 2020 draft. A blend of big plays from Winston and a lack of quality alternatives could lead to a new deal between now and March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Fuller, Quinn, Leftwich

The Texans are hopeful that wide receiver Will Fuller will be able to retake the field next week in Baltimore against the Ravens, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. Fuller has missed the team’s previous two games after suffering a hamstring injury against the Colts.

Fuller is one of the best deep threats in football, especially when he takes the field opposite of all-pro DeAndre Hopkins. Prior to his injury, Fuller was on pace to eclipse 70 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career. Those marks may be unattainable now, but at 6-3, the Texans are in the thick of the AFC playoff picture coming out of their bye. Fuller would surely aid them in their pursuit of a Super Bowl title.

Here’s more from the NFC and AFC South:

  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has been firmly on the hot-seat for many weeks. However, after a dominating victory over the Saints on Sunday, Quinn has bought himself at least a temporary reprieve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Just a few seasons away from a Super Bowl appearance, this year has fallen far short of expectations, especially on defense. However, New Orleans potent offense looked overwhelmed for much of the game.
  • After a 30-27 victory in a shootout against the Cardinals, the Buccaneers offense continues to produce in spit of Jameis Winston‘s propensity for turnovers. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich deserves a large amount of credit as the playcaller, however, he almost never got the responsibilities in the first place. In the offseason, head coach Bruce Arians had to convince ownership that someone other than him should call plays, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times.

Extra Points: Drake, Eagles, Giants, Winston

The Lions were dealt a tough blow when they lost Kerryon Johnson to a knee injury, and they’re apparently planning on replacing him with outside help. Detroit has been “aggressively scouring the running back market” for potential trades, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Kenyan Drake is expected to be dealt by Miami in the next day or so, and we’ve already heard the Lions were interested. Robinson points out that Dolphins coach Brian Flores has a longstanding relationship with Lions coach Matt Patricia, which could help facilitate a deal. While the Lions need a running back and Drake is on the move, don’t necessarily bank on him landing in Detroit. It “didn’t sound like the Lions were close to anything on the trade front,” after speaking with a source, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • There are a few teams looking for offensive tackle help, most openly the Browns. We’ve hear Eagles backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai could be an option, and Robinson tweets that he continues to hear that Vaitai is the “most available” tackle on the market. He also notes that Vaitai had “several teams” interested in him during the preseason. Vaitai started 16 games between 2016 and 2017 and is entering the final year of his contract, so it makes sense why Philly would try and get something for him.
  • Conversely, teams might have a harder time prying Nate Solder away. We’ve heard the Browns are interested in the Giants’ left tackle, but Robinson notes in the same tweet that he’ll be a “tougher get” since the Giants are “reticent” to shakeup Daniel Jones‘ offensive line too much. The former Patriot hasn’t lived up to his massive contract, but it looks like New York will hang onto him through the end of the season.
  • Marcus Mariota has already been benched by the Titans, and it sounds like his 2015 draft-classmate Jameis Winston is going to be able to avoid a similar fate. Winston had another turnover-plagued game during the Buccaneers’ Week 8 loss, but Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the Bucs’ plan is to give Winston the rest of the season to make his case. Working in Winston’s favor is that unlike Mariota, he doesn’t have an experienced backup like Ryan Tannehill breathing down his neck. Winston’s current backup, Ryan Griffin, has never taken a regular season snap.
  • The Texans lost starting running back Lamar Miller to a torn ACL right before the start of the season, and ended up trading for running back Carlos Hyde. Although many thought Houston would be actively looking for running back help after Miller went down it was apparently the Chiefs who initiated the Hyde trade, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The Chiefs inked Hyde to a one-year, $2.8MM deal back in March, but clearly regretted it and didn’t want him on the team any longer. They landed offensive tackle Martinas Rankin in return.