On the day after the Buccaneers fired third-year coach DirK Koetter, general manager Jason Licht met with the media to discuss the coaching search, but also revealed a very important piece to “the 2019 Buccaneer puzzle.” No matter who the new coach is, quarterback Jameis Winston will be brought back for next season.
The announcement was not completely unexpected, as Winston finished the season as a starter and at times played well, even though the Buccaneers lost their remaining four games. Also, with Winston only being 24 years of age and the Buccaneers still having the fifth year option on his rookie contract, it makes sense for them to give him one more season with a new coaching staff.
However, this was the first time that anyone with any authority to definitively said that Winston will be back.
GM Jason Licht is live at the podium for his press conference https://t.co/C5Kv7URegC
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 31, 2018
Licht conveyed the obvious, that the Glazers made their decision on a coaching change mostly based on the lack of winning over the course of the last two years. Koetter was 5 and 11 in both 2017 and in 2018. He was directly asked whether he had been concerned for his own job and about still being in charge for the Glazer family after this year’s dismal finish and responded, “I feel very fortunate to still be standing here and leading the organization.”
Licht was also asked about whether the hiring of a new head coach might be complicated, if that coach was not interested in bringing Winston back for next season? He repeated that Winston would be back at quarterback to the play for the new coach they hire for 2019.
While Winston’s contract option is for nearly 21 million dollars next season, it does by time for the Glazer family, Licht and the new coach to determine what to do long-term at the quarterback position.
Winston began the season with a three-game NFL suspension for the personal conduct policy violation in March of 2016. He came off the bench to start 3 games in the middle of the year going 1-2 before being benched, again. He replaced backup Ryan Fitzpatrick for good in the starting lineup for the Buccaneers six remaining games.
They won the first two over San Francisco and Carolina but dropped the remaining four games, including Sunday’s finale defeat to the Atlanta Falcons.
Dating back to last season Winston’s record as a starter is 6 – 16. He also has lost his last 13 road starts dating back to the end of the 2016 season.
Clearly, Winston has to deliver more wins this upcoming season or his time in Tampa Bay will be up.
And once Licht, who has had only one winning season in five years in Tampa Bay, makes the coaching hire, if the Bucs aren’t winning next season, his future may be in jeopardy as well.
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