MIAMI ― Another former Bucs quarterback selected in the first round believes Tampa Bay should give Jameis Winston the 2020 season to see if he improves.
Trent Dilfer, who played six seasons with the Bucs before moving on to win a Super Bowl with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, believes Winston would be better in the second year under head coach Bruce Arians.
“I think you have to bring him back for Year 2 under Bruce Arians," Dilfer said Monday at opening night for Super Bowl 54. “You’re not going to get anybody better for next year. Who are you going to get? Marcus Mariota?
“He’s just a high-ceiling, low-floor guy. If he was a mid-ceiling like I was and low floor, it makes sense (to get rid of him). His good is like what’s really good for other players around the league (better upside). And everybody understands Bruce needs to own some of this."
Winston, who led the NFL in passing with 5,109 yards and threw a club-record 33 touchdowns, also had 30 interceptions and five lost fumbles. He played the final three games with a broken thumb as the team finished 7-9. Winston will become an unrestricted free agent in March. The Bucs could apply the franchise tag, but that would guarantee Winston a one-year salary of about $27 million.
Dilfer said he would frequently talk to former Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer about how hard Arians’ system was to master. Palmer threw 22 interceptions in his first season under Arians.
“Carson would call me like mind spinning at first,” Dilfer said. "It takes a couple of years, as Carson talked, to really get it. But once you get it, it’s very explosive. I know why Bruce does it, it just takes a couple years to do it. Clyde (Christensen) is the best coach I ever had in the NFL. He’s got Clyde. He’s more than a swing coach, he knows how to simplify things. He knows how to speak a language that’s more friendly and he’s a great mentor. "
Dilfer said he wouldn’t be against the Bucs having an experienced backup quarterback ready to go if Winston falters in 2020.
“I would give him more than one year," Dilfer said. "Now, maybe it’s half of one. Maybe you get a really good backup. If things go haywire in the season, you pull a (Ryan) Tannehill out of this.
“It’s a good formula. Maybe you do that. Listen, people say there’s pressure on the quarterback. Well, if you can’t handle the pressure, you can’t play."