TAMPA — Jameis Winston is headed for a big pay day after this season, whether he gets a contract extension or not.
The Bucs on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Winston's rookie contract worth $20.9 million for 2019. The deal is not guaranteed except against injury.
Winston, the first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft, signed a four-year, $25.3-million contract that included a fifth-year club option.
He stands to make $8.06 million in 2018 salary and bonuses, ranking him 26th among quarterbacks and 250th among NFL players.
If Winston were to play under the fifth year option of about $20.1-million, it would rank 13th in average salary per year among quarterbacks. There are currently 17 NFL quarterbacks earning more than $20-million.
At 24, Winston is entering his fourth season, having passed for 11,636 yards with 69 touchdowns and 44 interceptions. But his team has never reached the postseason. Winston went 6-10, 9-7 and 3-10 as a starter. He missed three games last season with a shoulder injury and fell less than 500 yards shy of passing for 4,000 yards for the third straight season.
The deadline for picking up Winston's fifth-year option is May 2, but the Bucs had no reason not to just do it now. Tampa Bay is likely to attempt to negotiate a long-term deal before the start of 2019.
"It's exciting to start the fourth year, especially with my teammates, my class coming in," Winston said Monday. "Donovan (Smith) has a big year coming up, Ali (Marpet) has a big year coming up, and obviously, I have a huge year coming up. And seeing guys like Cam (Brate) and Mike (Evans) — they reap what they sow. I mean, they got huge contracts but it's what you said at the end.
"It's about that postseason, man. It's about getting some wins together, it's about bringing this community behind us, it's about really changing this culture around here and we're taking strides to that but now it's time to get it done."
Winston is hoping to have a long career. He has spent part of the off-season researching the diets of durable athletes such as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Cavaliers star LeBron James and boxer Floyd Mayweather.
"Just typical research," Winston said. "You watch 'Tom vs. Time' and you see how he maintains his body. You read articles about LeBron and investing a lot of money into his body and you see how he's been prolific throughout his career, you see Floyd Mayweather and how he continues to train and continues to keep toxins and stuff out of his body. So, you just learn from the guys that are very successful at it and the guys that are doing it and you try to apply it to your regimen every day."
Winston's shoulder injury has improved and has organized private throwing sessions with Mike Evans at Texas A&M and with DeSean Jackson at Florida State in recent weeks.
The Bucs reported to their off-season workout program Monday. The only thing looming over Winston is that the NFL is investigating an allegation that he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in November 2016. Winston has denied the allegations. Even though the probe is entering its fifth month, Winston said he has not been interviewed by the the NFL.
However, Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said he believes Winston eventually will be cleared.
"It meant a lot to me because I know my work ethic for this organization and for this team is unparalleled," Winston said. "Every day I walk in this building I'm trying to be the best I possibly can be and be a great leader for this organization so to have the support of ownership, it really inspires me to continue to work hard and continue to be the leader that I am."