What happened to Jameis Winston? Why the Buccaneers moved on from former No. 1 overall pick

From No. 1 in the draft to No. 3 on the depth chart.

Jameis Winston has something of a mercurial NFL career, to say the very least. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft was thought to be a can’t-miss prospect coming out of Florida State, and as it turns out, Winston was can’t-miss: Can’t miss defenders when he’s throwing the football, that is. 

Winston’s propensity to turn the ball over made for fun memes, but Winston wasn’t in on the jokes, as he headed to the unemployment line following the 2019 season, his last with the team that drafted him.

The Florida State product was considered a top quality prospect coming out of college, and even earned Sporting News Player of the Year honors in 2013 after a monster year that ended in a national championship.

With the Buccaneers and the Saints facing off on Sunday, here’s where the Winston-Bucs relationship went south:

MORE: Will Drew Brees retire in 2021?

What happened to Jameis Winston?

You can’t spell “Winston” without “INT.”

In totality, the story of Winston’s NFL career can be told with a single word: Turnovers.

Winston has played for three different head coaches in his career: Lovie Smith (2015, his rookie season), Dirk Koetter (2016-18) and Bruce Arians (2019), and not one of them were able to figure out how to get Winston’s turnover numbers down. In five seasons with the Buccaneers — 72 games overall — Winston threw 88 interceptions, or just over one pick per game. Not great, Bob!

In Year 5, under the tutelage of heralded offensive mind Arians, Winston had a career year: he threw 30 touchdowns and led the league with 5,109 passing yards and just over 319 yards per game. Unfortunately for Winston and the Bucs, he also threw 30 interceptions, a mark that also paced the league. Winston’s passing yards actually was the eighth most of all time.

Winston’s production, questions of maturity and apparent lack of leadership led to a 2018 suspension and serious doubts of his ability to lead a franchise during his tenure, eventually culminating with the Buccaneers and Winston parting ways following the 2020 season. The team hadn’t even engaged in contract talks with Winston, or didn’t think to use the franchise tag, either.

It also helped Tampa Bay that some veteran quarterback named “Tom Brady” was available, leaving the franchise with at least a viable replacement at signal-caller.

When did Jameis Winston leave?

Following the 2019 NFL season, Winston inked a deal to join the Saints for the 2020 season. Some speculation indicated that New Orleans head coach Sean Payton was preparing for life after Drew Brees, getting an extended look at the former first-round pick.

Winston played out all five years of his rookie deal with the Buccaneers, and the team chose not to slap the franchise tag on the passer, opting for to part ways with him instead following 2019.

Winston officially signed with the Saints on April 28, 2020.

Jameis Winston suspension

In 2018, the NFL nailed Winston with a three-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy stemming from an incident in Scottsdale, Ariz. 

Winston allegedly groped a female Uber driver, in March 2016, just a month before he would be drafted by the Buccaneers No. 1 overall.

The NFL “concluded that Winston violated the personal conduct policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.”

As part of Winston’s discipline, he was required to attend any rehab and counseling deemed necessary following the groping incident.

Jameis Winston contract, free agency

After the Buccaneers let him walk, the Saints signed Winston to a one year, $1.1 million contract, meaning he’ll hit free agency once again following the 2020 season.

Winston, though, didn’t get much of an opportunity to prove his value or rebuild it heading towards the offseason: With Taysom Hill starting while Drew Brees was out nursing broken ribs this year, Winston didn’t throw a pass, appearing in just four games this season, attempting 11 passes in total. 

For teams looking for a veteran backup with some prove

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