If you’ve followed Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston during his professional career, then you know his 2019 season will go a long way in determining his future with the team.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano feels the same way.
The veteran writer published his “make-or-break” candidates for the mothership on Tuesday and Winston’s name was second on the list, right behind a familiar name in Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Graziano’s reasoning for selecting Winston is as follows:
Why it’s a make-or-break year: Drafted one pick ahead of Mariota in 2015, Winston is in a nearly identical situation, although he hasn’t had Mariota’s injury issues and Blaine Gabbert feels like a slightly less imposing backup than Tannehill. Winston, who opened last season on a three-game personal conduct policy suspension and had to wrest the starting job away from Ryan Fitzpatrick upon his return, has a great chance to thrive under new coach Bruce Arians. But if he doesn’t, the team has to think about other options.
How the Bucs could move on: Same as with Mariota and the Titans. Winston is making $20.922 million no matter what but has no deal beyond 2019. The Bucs could franchise Winston (as the Titans could Mariota), but nothing requires them to do that.
I mean, outside of “wresting” the job away from Fitzpatrick - who was benched in favor of Winston twice in 2019 - it’s hard to argue against Graziano’s reasoning. Sure, Winston is statistically the best quarterback to don the pewter and red in franchise history, but that’s not much to be said when you look at the list of names that surround him.
Despite the doubts and the hesitations, there are a few things working in Winston’s favor this season. A proven coaching staff, a stockpile of offensive weapons, and a never-say-die mentality are just a few that could help the fifth-year signal caller reach his potential.
But as we all know, there are a ton of factors that go into defining a career in the NFL.
Will it be strictly numbers that determines his fate? What if the team makes the playoffs, but Winston doesn’t show much progress? On the flip side, what if the team finishes 5-11 for the third straight year, but he has a career year numbers-wise? Will those scenarios be enough to shine a light on Winston’s immediate future in Tampa Bay?
According to Graziano, they are.
Is 2019 a make-or-break season for Jameis Winston?
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Why did Graziano mention Mariota like four times?