Bruce Arians: Jameis Winston Still 'Unknown Quantity'

Luke Easterling

Even after leading the NFL with over 5,000 passing yards, Jameis Winston still hasn't made a believer out of the "Quarterback Whisperer."

Speaking at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians remained non-committal on Winston's future in Tampa Bay. He was asked about the difference in evaluating whether to bring back Winston or outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, and his answer was telling (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times):

Yes. One is the sack leader. They’re hard to find and I know he wants to be in this defense. The other is an unknown quantity to me still. Five thousand yards and (33) touchdowns is awesome. Thirty interceptions ... can we win with Jameis? Hell yeah. There’s no doubt.

As a head coach you have to decide, is there a better option?

Arians has the unique and likely frustrating task of evaluating arguably the strangest season by a quarterback in NFL history. Yes, Winston led the league in passing yards, becoming just the eighth player in league history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season. And he finished second in touchdown passes, trailing only league MVP Lamar Jackson.

But Winston also led the league with a whopping 30 interceptions, 10 more than the next-highest mark, and a career-high for a quarterback who has turned the ball over more times than any other in the NFL since he entered the league five years ago. Seven of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

It won't be an easy decision for Arians and the Bucs, and with key deadlines looming for the franchise and/or transition tags, time is running out for Tampa Bay to figure out what direction they will go at the game's most important position.