NFL Rumors: Jameis Winston Was Bucs’ Third Option Behind Tom Brady & Teddy Bridgewater, Bruce Arians Says

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston passes the ball during a game against the Atlanta Falcons.
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Although Jameis Winston is a former No. 1 NFL Draft selection who entered free agency earlier this month as one of the league’s most prolific quarterbacks in terms of passing yards and touchdowns, the 26-year-old’s chances to start in the 2020 season appear very unlikely at the moment. And as admitted by Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians in a new interview, there were two players who were bigger priorities than Winston when the league’s offseason kicked off — eventual Bucs signee Tom Brady and former New Orleans Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater, who recently signed with the Carolina Panthers.

In a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen Show (via Fox Sports Radio), Arians opened up about the Buccaneers’ offseason plans, telling the show’s eponymous host what he’d advise teams that may show interest in signing Winston as a free agent. As the veteran head coach explained, the former Heisman Trophy winner has a strong work ethic. However, he added that Winston was essentially Tampa Bay’s third option as the team’s first-string quarterback, given that both Brady and Bridgewater were both available in free agency.

“I’ve called a couple teams. 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 became Tom Brady was available, and we had Teddy Bridgewater if that hadn’t of [sic] worked out. If not, we were going full steam ahead back with Jameis. He’s a great young man and no one is going to outwork him.”

As explained further by Fox Sports Radio, Winston did indeed post big numbers in the 2019 campaign, leading the NFL in passing yards and finishing second in passing touchdowns. He was, however, also the league’s leader in interceptions, also setting a new NFL season record with seven “pick-sixes,” or interceptions returned for a touchdown. These dubious statistical distinctions have arguably contributed to his erstwhile unsigned status as more and more free-agent quarterbacks find new homes in the offseason.

As of this writing, it’s still far from clear where Winston may land in the ongoing free-agency period, but a few teams have been ruled out in recent days as potential landing spots. As reported on Tuesday by The Blitz News, ESPN’s Adam Schefter commented that the Los Angeles Chargers — whose longtime starting QB, Philip Rivers, signed a free-agent deal with the Indianapolis Colts — haven’t shown that much interest in Winston so far. While the former Florida State star is still expected to start the 2020 campaign as a backup, Schefter also expressed some hope that he could enjoy a late-career breakout like Ryan Tannehill, who led the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game after starting the 2019 season as a backup.