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Jameis Winston says goodbye to the Bucs

After five seasons, the former No. 1 overall pick plans to be back with another team in Super Bowl 55.
Jameis Winston may find it difficult to land with another team as the immediate starter.
Jameis Winston may find it difficult to land with another team as the immediate starter. [ Times (2019) ]
Published Mar. 21, 2020
Updated Mar. 23, 2020

TAMPA — Jameis Winston has said goodbye to the Bucs. But he plans on being back in Tampa to play in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium in February.

The quarterback lost his job with the Bucs. But he hasn’t lost his confidence.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft acknowledged Saturday on Twitter that he’s moving on after the Bucs’ signing of Tom Brady. Winston leaves with nearly every Bucs passing record, including yards (19,737) and touchdowns (121). His 88 career interceptions are second to Vinny Testaverde, who threw 112 in six seasons.

“It’s been a great five seasons as a Buccaneer,” Winston wrote. “All love and respect. I look forward to seeing y’all again in February. #SBLV, #2020Vision #Dreamforever.”

Winston, 26, knew his Bucs tenure was over officially Friday when Tom Brady announced his signing.

He is unlikely to land a starting job as an unrestricted free agent. Finding a market has been difficult for Winston, but he is believed to have some interest from a couple of undisclosed teams. But four days into free agency, he was still on the street. Brady took his job with the Bucs, Ryan Tannehill re-signed with the Titans, Teddy Bridgewater is headed to the Panthers, and Philip Rivers will be the starter for the Colts.

Related: We're about to find out if we've been too harsh on Jameis Winston

Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco are either already available or could be had in a trade.

What went wrong for Winston in Tampa Bay? The simple answer is he didn’t win enough. Winston had one winning season, when the Bucs went 9-7 in 2016 but failed to make the playoffs. Winston’s record was 28-42 as he went through three head coaches and two offensive coordinators.

It wasn’t all Winston’s fault. The Bucs had some historically awful defenses during his time and never ranked very high in rushing offense.

But Winston contributed mightily to his own demise with turnovers. In his final Bucs season, under head coach Bruce Arians, Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and added to his team record with 33 touchdown passes. But he threw 30 interceptions and lost five fumbles, leading to 112 opponent points off his turnovers alone.

Winston will find another job. His best path may be to back up a wobbly starter or be the bridge to a rookie who may not be ready to play. The Steelers, Jaguars and Washington are possibilities.

A new start should be good for Winston. As for the Super Bowl? Well, Doug Williams, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer were first-round picks who reached the Super Bowl after leaving Tampa Bay. But if Winston doesn’t play smarter and protect the ball, he may not be long for the NFL.

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com or (727) 709-5982. Follow @NFLSTROUD.