There was some thought the Bucs might move on from Winston after the 2018 season, but they have too much invested in him, including a No. 1 overall choice, to give up just yet. Instead, the team hired a head coach it believes can get the most out of Winston.
“With Clyde Christensen as his quarterbacks coach and Byron Leftwich [as coordinator], he’s going to be coached as well as he’s ever been and more prepared than he’s ever been fundamentally and mentally,” coach Bruce Arians said Thursday, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Bucs picked up the $20.9 million, fifth-year option on Winston’s contract despite Winston’s off-field troubles, his 21-33 record as a starter and his 76 turnovers in 56 games.
“No pressure. No pressure whatsoever,” Arians said of his expectations for his new quarterback. “I want him to relax and play the game. Talent is no issue. It’s just becoming a little bit smarter.”
Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went 4-6 as a starter in his two seasons in Tampa, becomes a free agent in March as does third quarterback Ryan Griffin.
So the Bucs know who their starter is. They don’t know who his backup is.
“If we’ve got a guy, he’s our guy,” Arians said, throwing his support behind Winston, via Greg Auman of The Athletic. “Hopefully we can get that room extremely competitive behind Jameis, so that we can win with them if something happens.”