Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians believes Jameis Winston would be a “great fit” on many NFL rosters — even if the former No. 1 overall pick was Tampa Bay’s third choice this offseason.
After five seasons of Winston’s inconsistency, the Buccaneers moved on and left their former franchise quarterback a still-unsigned unrestricted free agent, while landing future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. Arians was incredibly critical of Winston’s play during and after the quarterback became the first in NFL history with at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions this past season. But now Arians said he’s talked with NFL teams about signing Winston, who the coach claims would have been welcomed back to Tampa Bay if the team couldn’t sign Brady or Teddy Bridgewater.
“I talked to two teams. I think it was just to (tell them) get him on your roster and it would be a great fit,” Arians said on “The Rich Eisen Show.”
“One team was not interested and the other one was, ‘Thank you for calling.’ I called a couple teams [and told them] you’re going to get one of the hardest workers you’ve ever had, and a great young man. It didn’t work out for us only because Tom Brady was available, and we had Teddy Bridgewater if that hadn’t worked out — we were going full steam back with Jameis. He’s a great young man and nobody’s going to outwork him.”
Few places remain for Winston to find a starting job. Currently, the Patriots and Chargers are the only teams left without a clear-cut starter, and recently released former MVP Cam Newton is a strong bet to take one of those jobs. The upcoming NFL Draft could produces more competition.
Following Arians’ first season in Tampa Bay, the 67-year-old coach spoke as if Winston wasn’t worthy of leading a winning team.
“If we can win with this [quarterback], we can definitely win with another one, too,” Arians said then. “You look at it and there’s so much good and so much outright terrible.
“You’re not going anywhere. … You’re going home if you lead the league in giveaways. You’re never going to play in the playoffs. Unless you’re playing for the Steelers in the ’70s. It smells as bad as it could possibly smell and it’ll smell that way for a long time.”
Now, Arians’ critique has softened.
“I think it was that regression in those last two ball games after he had made such good progress,” the coach said. “You don’t throw for 5,100 [yards] and 30 touchdowns and not have any talent. Those numbers are amazing themselves, but those turnovers in December made us [wonder] if there’s something better behind door No. 2.”
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