Two years ago, as the Buccaneers were preparing to make quarterback Jameis Winston the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, concerns lingered regarding the possibility that Winston eventually could do what Bo Jackson, Tampa’s No. 1 overall pick from 1986, did: Play baseball.
The team addressed the possibility of Winston trying to be a two-sport player (like Jackson eventually did, but not for the Bucs) by adding language in Winston’s contract that bars him from moonlighting in America’s one-time pastime. Two years later, it seems like the window is still open for the sport that used to result in kids breaking windows (back when they used to, you know, go outside).
Appearing recently on the Talk of Fame Network (via JoeBucsFan.com), Winston admitted that he’s still considering playing baseball at some point.
“I was really serious about baseball,” Winston said. “As a matter of fact, my agency is a baseball agency. They really thought I was going to be a baseball player. But this football thing ended up working out for me. It was a dream of mine to be an NFL quarterback and be a pro baseball player. But the way time has changed that isn’t really allowed any more. Being from Bessemer, Alabama, seeing Bo Jackson and hearing that name around a lot, that was a dream of mine. You never know. Football, the lifespan of this sport is not really guaranteed, so baseball might be there one day.”
He added that he doesn’t aspire to be a two-sport player. Which means that, if he’d ever play baseball, he’d first walk away from football.
Whether he intended it or not, the remark gives him a little extra leverage as he enters the third year of his rookie contract. After 2017, he’ll be eligible for a second deal — and if the Bucs want to slam the door on Jameis dumping football for baseball over the next seven years or so, they can give him the kind of mega-extension that will make him continue to choose football over baseball indefinitely. Especially if the signing bonus is sufficiently large that it would trigger a major repayment obligation if he retires prematurely.
Of course, while a football player playing baseball wouldn’t be unprecedented, the Bucs signing a quarterback they drafted to a second deal would be. In more than 40 years of existence, the Buccaneers have never done that once.