Jameis Winston Rumors: Buzz on Steelers, Jaguars and Teams Linked to Ex-Bucs QB

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) passes the ball against the Detroit Lions during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

Jameis Winston will eventually find a suitor in free agency, but the market for his services has dipped somewhere between uninspiring and disappointing.

While a return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn't be ruled out initially, that changed when Tom Brady picked the NFC South club.

As the Carolina Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater and released Cam Newton, Indianapolis Colts added Philip Rivers, Las Vegas Raiders picked up Marcus Mariota and Chicago Bears traded for Nick Foles, the number of options further dropped.

It's entirely plausible Winston, after a 5,000-yard season, is looking at a backup role in 2019.

Though an unfortunate reality for him, a second-string role has steadily become the likely outcome. Even before Brady chose the Bucs, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the Los Angeles Chargers wouldn't be interested in Winston.

Rapoport confirmed as much after Brady chose the Bucs, saying the Chargers would stick with Tyrod Taylor. They'll probably consider a quarterback in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Cross another one off the list for Winston.

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ESPN's Booger McFarland noted the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington "will be in play" for Winston as a backup. While it's unclear if that's a report or conjecture, the connections are worth discussing.

Cincinnati is fully expected to select Joe Burrow as the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. In the meantime, the Bengals are looking to trade longtime starter Andy Dalton. Winston might not be keen on sitting behind Burrow in 2020.

Jacksonville recently dealt Foles, creating a spot behind Gardner Minshew. While he's not a definite long-term answer, the Jags are showing enough faith in Minshew for Winston to pause.

Pittsburgh will definitely start Ben Roethlisberger when healthy, but the Steelers are worth considering. Roethlisberger has flirted with retirement for several years. Since a backup job is likely for Winston, it would be reasonable to consider an organization that might have a vacancy in the near future.

Winston could sign a short-term contract and protect his 2021 options in case Roethlisberger returns again.

ESPN's John Keim, however, said "there is no chance" Washington will add Winston. New coach Ron Rivera appears to be sticking with 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins.

Otherwise, only the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots have a legitimate chance of picking a starter. But the Dolphins are more likely to rely on Ryan Fitzpatrick and draft someone, and there's no indication the Patriots are interested.

At this point, Winston's most likely outcome is a gap year in 2020, holding a backup role before returning to free agency.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR