The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for a new franchise quarterback.
As the Buccaneers brace for the free agency period later in the month of March, they’re tasked with likely signing a new quarterback to fill the void of the recently-retired Tom Brady. One of the top quarterbacks on the market is none other than former Bucs QB Jameis Winston.
Head coach Bruce Arians — who coached Winston for one season in 2019 before the QB’s departure — was asked about the possibility of bringing back his former quarterback during media availability on Tuesday, March 1. Needless to say, Arians was rather blunt in saying that while he’s open to the idea, he doesn’t think it would be the best situation for Winston.
Via Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times:
“Bruce Arians says he’s ‘not totally’ opposed to re-signing Jameis Winston as a free agent but doesn’t think it would be the best thing for Winston,” said Stroud.
Why Arians Doesn’t Favor Signing Winston
While Arians’ answer isn’t entirely shocking, it is still a little surprising considering Winston is considered the best QB on the free agency market. If Tampa Bay fails to acquire a big name at quarterback via the trade market, Winston could emerge as their best option.
The two sides have a rough history as Winston’s final season in Tampa did not fare well. The former No. 1 overall pick threw a league-leading 30 interceptions during the 2019 campaign, with Arians infamously calling out his then-starting quarterback after a disaster late-season performance.
Following the conclusion of the 2019 season — and just prior to the Bucs signing Brady in free agency — Arians summarized his thoughts on Winston during a SiriusXM NFL radio appearance in late February of 2020.
“I loved him, and I hated him,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “More love. If you throw for 30-some touchdowns and 5,100 yards, there’s a lot to love. Just the mistakes, sometimes you scratch your head.”
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Winston Appears to Have Evolved as Game Manager
Since that time, it appears Winston has grown in a game manager role. As the starting QB of the New Orleans Saints in 2021, Winston led the team to a 5-2 record while throwing 14 touchdowns versus just three interceptions.
A season-ending injury at the midpoint of the year ended his campaign early, but his touchdown rate (8.7%) led the league, while his INT rate (1.9%) was the 10th-best mark in the league.
However, it appears Arians is still a little sour over his previous experience with Winston. Stroud actually went into detail regarding this during a recent interview on The Rich Eisen Show.
“I don’t think Bruce Arians is fine with it. Been there, done that. There was a time when they were 7-7 in his one year here under Bruce. I thought he was going to make it, he threw for like 460-something two games in a row. Then they played Houston…then they played Atlanta and he threw both those games away. I saw on Bruce’s face that day he had reached his limit with Jameis Winston,” Stroud said.
Despite his recent play with the Saints, it looks like the Buccaneers have all but eliminated the idea of adding their former quarterback to the mix for the 2022 season.