Jameis Winston had one of the most unique and memorable seasons under center during the 2019 NFL campaign for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former first-overall pick from the 2015 draft led the league in passing yards—and interceptions. Winston, 26, threw 5,109 yards along with being picked off a down-right incredible 30 times (throwing 33 touchdowns, too).
Entering free agency after five years in the books with the Buccaneers, Jameis Winston is certainly a challenge on and off the field. However, there are plenty of NFL franchises in dire need of at least a competent quarterback that will raise the ceiling of contention for their team’s offense.
3. Miami Dolphins
The AFC East club had a promising second half of the 2019 season under rookie head coach Brian Flores after starting the year 0-7. The most confident assumption heading into the 2020 NFL Draft in April is that Miami, currently possessing the fifth overall pick, will select a quarterback—maybe Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert after the Cincinnati Bengals take LSU’s Heisman Trophy–winning gunslinger Joe Burrow at No. 1.
The Dolphins could still take Tagovailoa or Herbert and bring in the veteran Winston as insurance. This harkens back to what Miami did this past season with vet Ryan Fitzpatrick and sophomore Josh Rosen. However, the comparison is misguided given the kind of talent a potential Tua-Jameis quarterback competition would create.
2. Detroit Lions
Eleven years ago the Detroit Lions had the No. 1 pick, taking Georgia QB Matthew Stafford following a winless season in 2008. The Lions possess the third overall pick in the 2020 draft and it does not seem likely they will take a signal-caller with Stafford, who missed the last eight games of the season, returning for twelfth season.
Jameis Winston would be the perfect safety valve for Detroit should Stafford, at 31 years old, similarly experience a season-derailing health scare. The Lions could pick safely at No. 3 while upgrading their quarterback depth with Stafford returning healthy in 2020 and signing Winston to back him up.
1. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are done with longtime veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, all reports indicate. What’s the next step for the L.A. franchise? While many believe the Chargers will take a signal-caller immediately after the Dolphins draft at No. 5—should draft position stay unchanged between now and April—it is not out of the question for the Chargers to instead either trade back or pick a different area of need instead of taking a quarterback. This draft class has a consensus of strong receivers and offensive lineman. Fundamentally, the Chargers have positions to upgrade other than just under center with Rivers out the door.
That’s why it makes sense for L.A. to find a more temporary solution by signing Jameis Winston in free agency and rolling the dice. Winston doesn’t turn 27 until January 2021 and he does have enough skill to push the needle for the Chargers while the organization continues to rebuild.
And if he ends up working out better than expected, then the Chargers have a long-term answer as Rivers’ successor without using a top pick on the leftover QB after Cincinnati and Miami.