The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback situation continues to be a hot topic for debate as the beginning of the new NFL league year approaches.
With a mere five weeks remaining before free agency opens, the team still appears to be mulling its options, and if reports are correct, they may be seriously considering going in another direction.
The Athletic’s Mike Lombardi reported that the Buccaneers have “serious doubts about their current starter.”
The former Cleveland Browns general manager cites Winston’s failure to reduce his mistakes over his five-year career as the reason the Buccaneers’ brass are hesitant to commit to the embattled signal-caller long term.
Does Winston Have a Market Outside of Tampa?
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jenna Laine reports an agent familiar with the situation told the outlet, “Truth be told if he leaves Tampa, who else makes him a starter?”
That sentiment was echoed to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler by a current league executive:
“I don’t see how you could pay him. It would have to be pretty reasonably low if they did. You can’t give him big money based on the way he has played. He won’t have a market.”
Laine went on to confirm the team’s interest in now-former Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers as legitimate while adding Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, and Ryan Tannehill to the list of veteran options they like should they decide to move on from Winston.
Likewise, Tampa Bay has been linked to multiple quarterback prospects available in the upcoming NFL draft including first-round options Jordan Love and Justin Herbert as well as day two option Jacob Eason.
At the very least the general manager Jason Licht appears to be keeping all of his options on the table which means the team is either endeavoring to reduce Winston’s asking price to something more palatable (likely), or head coach Bruce Arians and his staff are not confident they can fix his turnover issues (possible.
What Are the Buccaneers’ Options?
A longterm, market value extension seems extremely unlikely at this stage especially if The Draft Network’s J.C. Cornell’s report that Winston’s camp is seeking a deal with an average annual value of $35 million is true.
They could also apply a franchise or transition tag retaining him on a one-year commitment although it’s been reported Winston would be very unhappy with that outcome.
Consequently, this option would reduce the cost and commitment, but introduces a different type of risk altogether. Something the front office and coaching staff are surely weighing.
The team has until March 10 at 4 p.m. to apply a franchise or transition tag reserving Winston’s rights ahead of free agency.