TAMPA — While the Bucs’ experiment to pair Bruce Arians with Jameis Winston didn’t work out, Arians has been more than eager to serve as a reference to help Winston land his next job.
Even with that help, finding a landing spot has been more difficult than expected for Winston.
Winston, who led the league with 5,109 passing yards and had 33 touchdowns but also 30 interceptions, remains unsigned. And the former No. 1 overall pick might have to settle for a backup job.
In an interview on The Rich Eisen Show, Arians said he reached out to two teams, campaigning for them to sign Winston.
“I talked to two teams,” Arians said. “I think it was just to (tell them) get him on your roster and it would be a great fit. One team was not interested and the other one was, ‘Thank you for calling.’
“I’ve called a couple of teams (and told them) that you’re going to get one of the hardest workers you’ve ever had and a great young man.”
While the Bucs went in an entirely different direction, pulling the coup of the offseason by nabbing Tom Brady on a two-year deal, Arians said that the Bucs were prepared to give Winston another year in his system if they couldn’t sign Brady or former Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“It didn’t work out for us only because Tom Brady was available, and we had (interest in) Teddy Bridgewater if that would have worked out,” Arians said. “But (otherwise), we were going full steam ahead back with Jameis. He’s a great young man. Nobody’s going to outwork him.”
Arians told Eisen that Winston’s performance in his final two games last season — he threw twice as many interceptions (six) as touchdown passes (three), including two pick-sixes — made it clear that the Bucs needed to see what else was available on the free-agent market.
“I think it was that regression in those last two ball games after he made such good progress,” Arians said. “You don’t just throw for 5,100 yards and 30 touchdowns and not have any talent. Those numbers are amazing in themselves. Those turnovers in December made us look and see, was there something better behind Door No. 2. We owed that to our owners and to the rest of our football team to see — not thinking it’s going to be Tom Brady.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.