Reality before nonsense, please. –


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Let’s stop the nonsense – he won’t come back.

The Bucs may be desperate to land a veteran under center, but Bruce Arians isn’t desperate enough to bring Jameis Winston back for a second stint.

Although he is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Winston could be the most coveted free agent quarterback on the market in a few months. That doesn’t mean he’s a natural fit for One Buc Place as long as Arians is still sitting in the head coach’s office.

The Arians rated Winston during the 2019 season and it didn’t end well.

No chance, writes Ira Kaufman.

In fact, it ended terribly.

Positioned for a second contract, Winston self-destructed in the last two games, prompting the Arians to turn their attention to the No. 2 gate. We know what happened next – two years of surprising success, a national exhibition and a turnstile rush, all initiated by Tom Brady.

Arians has already passed judgment on Winston, the first pick in the 2015 draft.

“He had a great run,” Arians said after the 2019 season. “We had a good shot to make it 9-7. And then we lose a few games on pick sixes and that was disheartening because he made some progress…and then he regressed.

After sitting behind Drew Brees in 2020, Winston played well in New Orleans last year before suffering his injury against the Bucs. The faltering Saints are thinking about making Winston a competitive bid to stay, but the Steelers might also have an interest.

There’s another way to look at the unlikelihood of a possible Winston-Bucs reunion.

From Winston’s perspective, why would he want to play again for a coach who said no thank you the first time around? In the unlikely scenario where the Bucs become contenders, one would think Winston will have several other options to consider in free agency.

tank talk

It was natural to think of Winston and the Bucs when news broke this week that Brian Flores is suing the NFL. One of his allegations is that owner Stephen Ross offered him money to lose games for the 2019 Dolphins so Miami would have a higher pick to draft a quarterback.

Memories of the Glazer team.

Flores said he refused to follow and the Dolphins ended up picking Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5. Ross denies the allegations.

A few years earlier, the Bucs fueled their own tanking controversy. Heading into the final game of the 2014 season, a loss would guarantee Tampa Bay the first pick in a draft led by Winston and Marcus Mariota.

The Bucs were 2-13, on a 5-game losing streak when the Saints entered Raymond James Stadium. With Tampa Bay leading 20-7 at halftime, coach Lovie Smith removed Mike Evans, Lavonte David and most of his offensive line from the field as the Saints rallied for a 23-20 win.

When New Orleans dropped Josh McCown for a last-minute safety to secure the win, RayJay’s northcourt erupted in cheers. After the match, Smith dismissed all suggestions he made for Winston.

We know better.

Sean Payton kept his mouth shut until 2020 when he was interviewed by a Baltimore radio station.

“Damn, they (the Bucs) lost the game to us on purpose at the end of the season,” Payton said. “They forced Lovie to pull their starters out of the game so they could get the No. 1 spot to draft Jameis.”

We all know how it happened. To be fair, neither Winston nor Mariota have established themselves as a franchise quarterback.

Next step

If bringing Winston back doesn’t make sense, what does?

You have come to the right place. The Bucs could do much worse than Jimmy Garoppolo. Just because the 49ers are smitten with Trey Lance, don’t overlook what Jimmy G. accomplished with San Francisco.

Consistent winner.

This guy is 33-14 as a starting quarterback in the regular season and he’s 4-2 in the playoffs. Last season he made 68% of his shots and his 98.9 passer rating was better than Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Josh Allen. More impressively, he averaged 8.6 yards per pass attempt, No. 2 in the league behind Joe Burrow.

Better yet, it is available. It’s no mystery – the 49ers are leaving Garoppolo. He’ll be with another team in 2022 and it’s not like John Lynch is going to demand a massive comeback.

The Bucs can win with this guy, but it will take a different offensive strategy. Tom Brady threw an NFL-high 719 passes, most with great success. Brady threw a lot because it worked, not because it was necessary.

After Brady, this offense is going to change significantly, and that’s great. Jimmy Garoppolo is not Tom Brady. Who is? But he’s smart and he makes good decisions.

Right now, he’s standing behind door #2.

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