After his benching on Sunday, should the Tampa Bay Buccaneers try to trade Jameis Winston before Tuesday’s deadline?
The way Ryan Fitzpatrick started the season, there was a case for him to remain the starter even after Jameis Winston returned from a three-game suspension. But that lasted one half of football, and Winston made his third start of the season Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Buccaneers lost 37-34 to the Bengals, but Fitzpatrick took over for Winston and led a fourth quarter rally to make it close. Winston earned his benching with four interceptions in the game, and now there’s a question who will start for Tampa Bay in Week 9 and beyond.
Winston has always been fairly interception-prone, and he now has thrown 10 in 148 pass attempts this season. At 3-4 the Buccaneers are still in the playoff race, but four losses in their last five games has served as a reality check after “FitzMagic” was in full bloom to start the season.
The idea of trading Winston in the less than 48 hours now left before the trade deadline comes off as an overreaction to a particularly bad game. But 3-4 could quickly become 3-6 for the Buccaneers, with the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins on the slate the next two weeks, and then the margin for error to make the playoffs in a deep NFC becomes nil.
Winston’s off-field issues already puts him on shaky ground as Tampa Bay’s quarterback going forward, apart from the coach that cultivated him and the general manager who drafted him each being on the hot seat. But his $20.9 million fifth-year option for 2019 is only guaranteed for injury, and exposing themselves to Winston being injured badly enough to not pass a physical next March is a risk that’s increasingly not going to be worth taking.
Exactly what a trade market for Winston would look like is unclear, and on the heels of Sunday’s performance this might be a relative low point in his value. But some calls may be coming, and weighing all factors the Buccaneers have to consider moving on and getting something of value for the 2015 No. 1 overall pick.