Report: Jameis Winston Named Buccaneers Starter over Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. 49ers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 18:  Quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to pass against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 18, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Giants won 38-35.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going back to Jameis Winston as their starting quarterback for their Week 12 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, ESPN.com's Jenna Laine reported Monday.

Ryan Fitzpatrick started the Bucs' last three games. Winston replaced Fitzpatrick in Sunday's 38-35 loss to the New York Giants and finished 12-of-16 for 199 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.

Going back to Winston is the obvious call.

For one, the Tampa Bay offense nearly did enough to erase what had been a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter Sunday.

In addition, the Buccaneers stood to gain little by sticking with Fitzpatrick. The 35-year-old was electric to start the year—throwing for 400-plus yards in each of his first three games—but has since fallen back to earth. He threw for 816 yards and four touchdowns with seven interceptions over three games after assuming starting duties from Winston in Week 9.

At 3-7 and third from the bottom of the conference, Tampa Bay is essentially out of the NFC playoff conversation.

The team can use its final six games to evaluate whether Winston should continue to be the starter in 2019.

Winston is third in the NFL in interceptions (11) despite having appeared in only five games. Should those turnover problems persist over the remainder of the season, general manager Jason Licht and the front office will need to have a serious conversation about Winston's future.

As much as it would hurt to move on from a No. 1 overall pick after just four seasons, that'd be better than paying Winston $20.9 million and watching him continue to struggle. Winston's salary isn't guaranteed, so releasing him in the offseason wouldn't carry any financial penalty.

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