NFL Betting: Which Team Will Jameis Winston Play for in 2020?
Five years ago, Jameis Winston was being spoken of in reverential terms, befitting his stature as the quarterback of the National Champion Florida State Seminoles on his way to becoming the first overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Now, he is being looked at as one of the most fascinating quarterback options in a crowded free agency marketplace. Things sure have changed around here.
FanDuel Sportsbook is offering odds on where Winston will be playing in 2020. Let’s take a look at some of the options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-150)
The team that drafted Winston back in 2015 has not exactly slammed the door shut on the chances of his returning to the team in 2020. I mean, he did set career highs in passing attempts, yards and touchdowns in 2019, completing 380 of his 626 attempts for a league-high 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns. But he also led the NFL in interceptions, tossing a staggering 30 on his way to becoming the founding member of the 30/30 Club.
In terms of upside, you could argue that there is no more tantalizing player in free agency than Winston. But even a great quarterback whisperer like Arians might be ready to accept that he can’t change a player with a natural disposition towards turning the ball over like Winston. Arians and GM Jason Licht may be willing to say that 19,737 yards and 121 touchdowns are not enough when weighed against the 88 interceptions. But when you look at the other options for both Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a reunion may be the best for both parties.
Miami Dolphins (+600)
At one stage last season, it seemed that the Miami Dolphins were a near lock to land the first overall selection in this year’s draft. For whatever reason, the team then started playing better and eventually winning games, taking them out of contention to land Joe Burrow. Now there is a chance that they could still land one of the blue-chip quarterback prospects in this draft, a player like Tua Tagovailoa or Jordan Love, for instance. But if the team is not in love with any of these players, and don’t see Josh Rosen as their franchise savior (and why would they), then maybe they could take a chance on Winston and use the fifth overall selection to address other needs on the roster.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was the quarterback the team needed in 2019, but he wasn’t particularly efficient. He was 13th among the 20 quarterbacks with 500 drop backs in terms of Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) last year, averaging 0.07. Winston, for all his turnover woes, averaged 0.10. There are some promising pieces in the Dolphins' receiving corps, like DeVante Parker and Preston Williams at wide receiver and Michael Gesicki at tight end.
But given how the Dolphins have gone about building up their war chest of draft picks, I don’t think they would commit a great deal of cap space to a player like Winston, a player who might help them stay exactly as they are but not improve. I don’t think Winston is going to be hopping to another Florida team.
New England Patriots (+950)
This seems a bit of a longshot to me for several reasons. One, I still believe that Tom Brady will be the quarterback of the New England Patriots in 2020. Two, even if Brady is in another uniform next year, I struggle to see Winston as an ideal fit for the Patriots.
The offense run by Josh McDaniels is famously one of the more complex schemes in the NFL, depending on the quarterback and receiver reading the same thing and reacting accordingly. Winston hasn’t exactly gone out his way to show that he knows what he is seeing on the field and trying to get a pass-catcher to think along the same lines as Winston may be a recipe for disaster.
There is also the small matters of the financial arrangements that would need to be in place for this signing. Winston has said in the past that he thinks he is worth $30 million a year. The Patriots have, with his agreement, paid Tom Brady below his market price for years. Brady has delivered six Super Bowl titles for the Patriots, so I find it hard to believe that he would be under-compensated for so long only for the team to break the bank for Winston.
Los Angeles Chargers (+950)
The Los Angeles Chargers are heading to a new home and need a new face of the franchise. Philip Rivers is not returning after his epic run as the team's starting quarterback, and to be honest, he wasn’t at his best in 2019 anyway.
He topped 4,000 yards passing for the seventh straight season. But his 23 touchdowns were his fewest since 2007, and he also tossed 20 interceptions. The team has gone out of their way to talk up Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback, but it would take a hype man of prodigious talent to get fans to fork out for PSL’s in their new home to watch a Tyrod-led team.
Winston is a lot younger than Taylor and Rivers, and there is still the possibility that he hasn’t peaked yet. But “upgrading” from the quarterback who threw the second-most interceptions in 2019 to the one who threw the most seems a tad strange. There is some fear that Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn may be coaching for his job in 2020, and the prospect of trusting a player like Winston with your future may be one way to guarantee you find exit door quickly. I would expect the Chargers to take a shot on a quarterback early in the draft.
Las Vegas Raiders (+1900)
Some people, through no fault of their own, just conform to an ideal that they were born to be a Raider. A devil may care, “If I fail this time, I’ll get it done next time” attitude was certainly one fostered by John Madden and the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s. And for whatever reason, this ideal has stuck.
A quarterback who, after throwing an interception has the confidence (some might say nerve) to try and do the same thing straight away would fit this like a glove. Derek Carr was an efficient facilitator of Gruden’s offense in 2019, completing 70.4% of his pass attempts on his way to a second consecutive 4,000-yard season. Per our metrics, Carr was also fourth in terms of Passing NEP among the 20 quarterbacks with at least 500 drop backs.
But there has always been something about the relationship between the Raiders' coach and quarterback that has never suggested permanence -- despite often glowing reports on the quarterback from the coach. Gruden has long been enamored by the quarterback position, and during his time with the Bucs, he almost went out of his way to acquire as many as he could.
Like the Chargers, the Raiders are heading to a new home, and Gruden and Mike Mayock (not to mention owner Mark Davis) may see Winston as the ideal person to be the face of their franchise as they make their way into Sin City. If Winston doesn't end up staying with the Buccaneers, I really think this could be the best fit for him.