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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs won’t take $21 million risk with Jameis Winston, yet

Florida Football Insiders

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Aug 9, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) calls a play at the line against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt that the Bucs are at a cross roads with QB Jameis Winston. A dilemma. A quandary.

He’s suspended for the fist three games of the regular season upcoming.

Yet, he’s by all accounts done everything right in terms of preparation, leadership, and helping his teammates in this training camp. Oh, and he’s played well with excellent results for the Buccaneers three preseason games.

And it was on display in the Bucs eventual 33-30 loss to the Lions in Tampa Friday night. The former #1 overall pick finished 6-10 for 60 yards and a second quarter TD pass to WR Chris Godwin. And, for the third straight week he showed command of the offensive and the Bucs moved the ball and scored points.

Still, the reality is that his team is about to be forced to proceed against the Saints, the Eagles and the Steelers without him.

And coach Dirk Koetter made it clear Saturday afternoon that Winston has seen the field for the last time in the preseason:

Koetter said Winston won’t play in the preseason finale’ at home Thursday against Jacksonville.

First, the coach assessed his star QB’s play and, then, the handling of the pending suspension:

“I think performance-wise, you’d have to give Jameis an ‘A’ for the preseason,” Koetter said. “I don’t think anybody in their right mind wouldn’t say that wasn’t an ‘A’ performance on his part. I think he handled it well. I think he performed very well. He did a really good job of working on things he needed to work on.

“The situation is what it is. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. We’re going to miss him when he’s gone, and we’ll be glad when he’s back.”

What Koetter didn’t get into is the real reality that is staring he, his staff, and biggest, the front office and ownership, right in the face.

That point, moving forward, is Winston is a significant financial risk, when the Bucs play him.

This is because, the team already chose to pick up the fifth year option on his rookie contract. And, that option year is only guaranteed for one thing: injury.

Yes, if Winston were to get seriously hurt, and could not pass his physical next March, the Glazers and the team would have no choice under the CBA rules, but to pay him in full for 2019.

So, obviously, with having taken that injury risk in the first three preseason games with Winston and having success on the field, now Bucs don’t have to see anything Thursday.

And it’s not that far fetched that there can be a serious injury.

Winston hurt his throwing shoulder early last season, and he missed most or all of five games because of it. He returned to full health late in the year, but it’s an example of what can very likely happen at the very vulnerable position of quarterback. You are prone to taking hits, sometimes from both sides at the same time, that you can do little about.

So, it will be a risk- a $21 million risk, whenever Winston sets foot on an NFL game field again later this season.

However, the Buccaneers will now take that risk, for however long they choose to do it in 2018, when the games actually matter.

And that would not be Thursday night.

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