Jameis Winston might hit free agency when the new league year opens March 18, in which case the 26-year-old could sign with a new team after spending his first five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So, which potential landing spot represents the best fit?
Well, according to Stephen A. Smith, the New England Patriots should consider signing Winston, even if they re-sign Tom Brady, who also is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career.
“You know what the best situation for (Winston) is? The New England Patriots,” Smith argued on Tuesday’s episode of “First Take” on ESPN. “Because guess what? Clearly if Tom Brady’s there, you’re not gonna be starting. And secondly, do we not rave about (Bill) Belichick maybe being the greatest ever. If anybody can sit up there and have an iron fist on him — and not to knock Bruce Arians in any way; because I know Bruce Arians is damn good — but what I’m saying is we talk about Belichick in a different light.
” … The point is, who better to teach him? Because with Belichick, the primary thing is don’t turn the ball over. The primary thing is not turning the ball over. Belichick’s gonna do something to you. So the bottom line is if that’s what Jameis Winston needs most and it would be a backup role, I think New England’s the perfect place for him.”
It’s hard to imagine Winston backing up Brady in New England. Even if the Bucs don’t re-sign the 2015 No. 1 overall pick, there’s a chance he could find a starting job elsewhere. If not, there still probably are better options than the Patriots in terms of Winston at least competing for a starting role.
Smith’s theory still is interesting, though, because it would be fascinating to see whether Belichick could get the most out of Winston, who has shown flashes of excellence but all too often has been killed by his propensity for turning over the football.
Winston is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and threw for 33 touchdowns, but he also racked up an eye-popping 30 interceptions, which played an integral role in the Bucs struggling to a 7-9 record and missing the playoffs for a 12th consecutive season.