Bucs GM: Jameis Winston Wasn't a Bust
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new starting quarterback in Tom Brady, and their previous one is still waiting to find a new team in free agency.
Jameis Winston spent the past five seasons in Tampa Bay, but his rookie contract expired after last year's fifth-year option, and he wasn't retained because the Bucs were confident they could land Brady.
Still, Winston is just 26 years old, and leaves the Bucs as the team's all-time leader in every major passing category.
On Thursday, Bucs general manager Jason Licht was asked whether he considers Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, a hit or a miss.
"We have a lot of respect for Jameis," Licht said via video conference call. "Jameis was still part of our plan if things went a different route. I've got a lot of respect for him. I thought he did a lot of great things and I think anybody in our office, or our building, would say the same thing. He did some spectacular things for us. I would never say that personally – and I think I speak on behalf of the organization – that he was a bust. I think he's got a bright future ahead of him. It just really comes down to, we had a chance to get Tom Brady. Tom Brady is a hell of a player and we are very excited about that. I'm very confident that Jameis is going to go on and get an opportunity. That's not the last you're going to hear from Jameis."
Winston put up big numbers over his five seasons with the Bucs, but they weren't always the good kind. In addition to tons of yards and touchdowns, Winston also turned the ball over more times than any other quarterback in the NFL since he entered the league. Last season, the fact that Winston led the NFL with 5,109 yards, and finished second to NFL MVP Lamar Jackson with 33 touchdown passes, was overshadowed by his league-leading 30 interceptions.
It's difficult to put a label like "hit" or "miss" on a player like Winston, who brought so much good to the team, but also so many head-scratching moments that kept both him and the team from reaching their potential.