Will the decision on Winston come down to cash?

by Gary Shelton on February 15, 2020

in general

How much should the Bucs pay Winston?/TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

On one hand, there is his yardage, which is worth a lot. On the other, there are his interceptions, which aren't worth two cents.

Then there is his touchdowns, which will come after a hefty price. Then there is his won-loss record, which you can find in the bargain basement.

So in the looming decision of whether the Bucs should pay Jameis Winston, there is this question:

Will it come down to price?

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In a perfect world, you would hope not. You would hope that fine, efficient minds will coolly weigh what they think Winston is, and what they think he will be. You would think they would bring out their analytics and their instincts and their slide-rules and their game tapes, and they would make the right choice. This time.

But will it end up being like buying a very, very expensive house. Is there a figure where the Bucs stay the course, and is there a figure where they walk away.

At this point, it's hard to blame the Bucs if they do either. You have to think the Bucs are wary of giving big bucks to a turnover-prone quarterback. Heck, the whole franchise cost just $16 million back in 1976, and Winston made $20 million last season.

Still, there aren't great options for the long term, and there is a comfort level to staying the course. Everyone likes to be right, and there is an ease to going with someone you know.

So how much money is enough? How much is too much?

For the record, Winston made $20.9 million last season. That's rock-star money, to be sure. On the other hand, it was tied for only 12th in the NFL. Fourteen quarterbacks made $20 million or more last year. Quarterbacks don't come cheap.

So what happens this year?

You can rest assured that Winston's people expect a raise after a 5,000-yard season. But are the Bucs willing to do that?

Former Tampa Bay general manger Mark Dominik has stated on a couple of occasions that Winston doesn't deserve any more money. And it's true that Winston was paid closer to elite than his performance last season.

But Dominik is just making noise. In all of his time with the Bucs, did he ever give a second contract to a player the Bucs wanted that didn't include a raise? I doubt it. Agents think any expiring contract comes with a bump in pay.

And so the Bucs will look at their options. One of those, according to reports, is to trade for Detroit's Matt Stafford. Now, I like Stafford, but he made a third more ($30.7 million) than Winston did last year, and Stafford hasn't done a lot of winning either. (Stafford's salary reduces to $21 million this year, which means he and Winston are in the same ballpark).

There have been rumors about San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, who also throws too many interceptions but throws for a lot of yardage. But Rivers is 38, which means in a couple of years, the Bucs are in the same situation as now. Ask yourself this: Would the Bucs go to the Super Bowl with Rivers? Doubtful. The Chargers never have.

I think I can safety suggest that none of us see Winston as a $20-million a year guy. Part of that is sticker shock. But part of it is the reason that we don't all drive Ferrari's. They make sense for certain people; not for us.

By now, I imagine the Bucs have done their due diligence on what kind of contract Winston expects. I'd tell his agents that, should the Bucs let him walk, there won't be anyone else offering him $20 million a season. No one else will turn over the franchise to him for next season.

If it's me, I offer to bump up his incentives. Anything less than 15 interceptions means big money. anything more than seven wins means cash. But the same results should get (no more than) the same pay.

If I'm the Bucs, I also tell Winston that this is an investment by both parties. That means for the quarterback, too.

Winston has been paid plenty.

He hasn't returned plenty.

If it's me, I'm willing to go in for another year with Winston.

If money is all that matters to him, though, I'd spend my money elsewhere.

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