He was never a toes-on-the-edge kind of guy. As much as anything, that was what doomed Kellen Winslow's career with the Buccaneers.
He was never a player to charge from one practice field to another with spit and fire because a new coach suggested he do so. Winslow? He was the guy running pass patterns against an invisible opponent after the rest of the team had gone in after pregame warmups.
And so, K-2 is K-put.
Late Monday night, the Bucs told Winslow to run his final down-and-out.
In the end, Winslow simply didn't fit anymore. Not here and not now, not as a player and not as a proclamation. The new coach, Greg Schiano, is urgent, demanding, and his immediate goal is to squeeze everything he can out of the next five minutes. Winslow is a take-his-time, do-it-his-way guy who requires special handling. You could not have imagined a worse match.
And so it didn't last. It was never going to last. If the Bucs had better alternatives at tight end, it might not have lasted this long. Eventually, there was bound to be friction.
As near as anyone can tell, the only person really surprised by this is Winslow. At least, that's what he said in his interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, when Winslow announced the Bucs had informed him it was time for him to try another route.
According to Winslow, Schiano told him he would not be a Buccaneer for long. He said the team would try to trade him, which it did, sending him to the Seahawks for an undisclosed 2013 draft pick. The Bucs needed the roster spot after agreeing to a one-year deal with Dallas Clark.
He is a smart man, Winslow. He should have seen this coming. It doesn't take long to figure out that Schiano doesn't have a lot of bend to him. If some adjusting was in order, it wasn't going to be by a new coach taking over a 4-12 football team.
Winslow should have known that. He should have known that new coaches want to see you sweat up close. He should have known there was a perception of entitlement in the Bucs locker room from last year. He should have known a new coach was going to change things.
The first day Schiano showed up for work, Winslow should have been outside his door. Doing push-ups. Anything else was an athlete playing chicken with his career.
All players are not meant for all coaches. Remember Jon Gruden and Keyshawn Johnson? From the moment Schiano was hired, it was easy to wonder how a coach fresh from college would look upon a tight end who missed so much practice time because of his 70-year-old knees.
In some ways, Winslow was the first test of how Schiano treats an eight-year veteran who requires a bit of pampering. As it turns out, Schiano doesn't seem that interested in the concept.
And there is your message to the locker room. Buy in or move out.
Evidently, that also goes for guys who catch 70 footballs a season.
Say this for Winslow. For the past three years he has been a pretty good guy for the Bucs to have around on Sunday. He caught 218 passes during his stay, and there were times when it seemed as if he was the only receiver the Bucs had who could find an open patch of grass.
That said, Winslow didn't have the same burst last year. Separation came hard for him, which led to him pushing off with his hands, which led to offensive pass interference calls. He dropped a two-point conversion that would have tied the Packers in the fourth quarter during Week 11, then he had a locker room meltdown when a reporter asked him about it.
In other words, Winslow doesn't strike anyone as a young 28. After a while, a guy has to prove he's still a special player before he can get special treatment.
As Winslow walks away, one final question is in order. In the end, was he worth the price?
Again, Winslow was a productive player. The Bucs have gotten less for a second- and a fifth-round pick (the price the Bucs paid to Cleveland to acquire him). Still, that should last longer than three years, shouldn't it? Winslow wasn't a waste, but no, the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Miami wasn't worth the full price, either.
Odd. It was late last season, and the rumors of a coaching change were already flying when Winslow tried to speak out for his coach. Fire Raheem, Winslow said, "and it will ruin the Bucs.''
At least for his part, it did.