Skip to main content

The Buccaneers are poised to allow quarterback Jameis Winston to test free agency, and according to NBC Sports' Peter King, the former first-overall pick will not likely return to Tampa Bay in 2020. However, has anyone asked who would actually sign Winston?

There is no simple answer and no single determining factor. As a free agent, Winston brings big stats with him, for better or worse. Though he threw for over 5000 yards and 30 touchdowns, his 30 touchdowns and overall history of turnovers overshadow his more positive accomplishments.

He also joins a free agent quarterback market that could boast Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill and future Hall-of-Fame QB Tom Brady. He must also compete with an NFL draft that could see four quarterbacks taken in the first round.

Finally, there are only so many teams looking for a quarterback with starter potential and the accompanying paycheck. Here are the teams that might be in the market:

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are one of the teams with an unequivocal need for a new starting quarterback. They announced last month that Philip Rivers would not return, leaving a void under center.

The clearest path for LA leads to the draft in April. With the sixth-overall pick in the draft, the Chargers are well positioned to take Oregon QB Justin Herbert or move up for Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa.

With the Chargers likely to draft their next franchise quarterback, there will not be much room for Jameis Winston, except as a bridge quarterback. This is also unlikely given the draft capital the Chargers will have to invest, making it more likely that the rookie quarterback will start again.

New England Patriots

The rumors that Tom Brady will do the unimaginable and leave New England may or may not be true, but in the internet-shattering possibility that it occurs, there will be a quarterback vacancy up north.

Jameis Winston is a definitive step down from Tom Brady, but the Patriots may not have much of an option. New England has the 23rd-overall pick in the draft, likely too late to find a day-one starter.

Winston will have to compete with the likes of Ryan Tannehill for a job under Bill Belichick, and frankly, Tannehill is more Belichick's speed. He was more efficient in Tennessee than Winston was in Tampa last season and far less prone to turnovers. The interceptions alone might ward Belichick from even approaching Winston.

Cincinnati Bengals

Well, this is just a silly idea. There is virtually no chance the Bengals sign Jameis Winston. With the first overall pick in the draft, Cincinnati is all but guaranteed to draft Heisman-winning LSU QB Joe Burrow. Winston is not likely on their radar, except as a back-up.

Indianapolis Colts

Jacoby Brissett played admirably in 2019, but it was clear he was not the answer at quarterback for Indianapolis. Popular speculation has Philip Rivers reuniting with his old quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, now-head coach Frank Reich. The Colts could also make a move for a quarterback in the draft. 

None of these options are set in stone, and it's possible that Jameis Winston has a chance to sign in Indy. The Colts are not exactly in "win-now" territory, though they have a solid foundation built by general manager Chris Ballard. White and blue could be Winston's best colors this spring.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are in a similar spot as the Bucs, at risk of losing their 2019 starter. The difference is, Ryan Tannehill helped get his team to the AFC championship game after a career-saving season where he threw 22 touchdowns in 11 games. Now a free agent, Tannehill could be the hottest quarterback on the market, but only if Tennessee lets him go.

If the Titans do let him walk, the one name that might pop up ahead of Winston would be Tom Brady, who was a teammate of Titans HC Mike Vrabel. It's a shame because Winston would be walking into an ideal situation. Tennessee has a punishing run game with Derrick Henry, a host of receiving weapons including a familiar face in Adam Humphries, and a solid defense.

The fact that the Titans are playoff-ready might be what keeps Winston out of Nashville. The Titans brass, including former Bucs director of player personnel Jon Robinson, would be betting the team's playoff window on a quarterback who's thrown more interceptions than any other quarterback over the past five years. 

That gamble would likely calculate into any contract negotiation and would require Winston to lower his asking price.