Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and soon-to-be free agent Jameis Winston is coming off one of the most hard-to-define seasons any quarterback has ever had. He became the first member of the 30 touchdown, 30 interception club in 2019 while throwing for more than 5,000 yards.
His talent as a pure passer is undeniable. But his decision-making and mistake-prone style of play will have teams nervous about committing top dollar to him on the open market.
But will he have the kind of leverage in free agency to demand a payday consistent with the NFL’s top quarterbacks?
According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler, the answer is no.
“I don’t see how you can pay him,” one NFL executive told the ESPN pair. “It would have to be pretty reasonably low if they did. You can’t give him big money based on the way he played. He won’t have a market.”
If the unnamed executive is correct about Winston not having an abundance of suitors this March, the Bears would be foolish to not at least consider signing him to a one-year prove-it deal especially if they’re intent on beginning the season with Mitch Trubisky as the starter. Winston checks the boxes for what Chicago should be looking for in competition for Trubisky: he has a high ceiling and the upside to be a franchise quarterback, but for one reason or another, simply hasn’t had the kind of consistent success with the Buccaneers to keep him in Tampa Bay long-term.
All it will take, however, is one team falling in love with Wintson’s upside for his market to become inflated. According to Spotrac, Winston’s market value is currently $26.7 million per year, and if he gets a multi-year offer, it can easily exceed $100 million.
If that scenario plays out, the Bears will check out. That’s too much money to commit to a player who hasn’t proven enough on the field for a franchise to mortgage its short- and long-term future on.
GM Ryan Pace will search long and far for the Bears’ version of Ryan Tannehill this offseason. Winston’s pedigree could put him out of reach, but the NFL offseason is always full of surprises. Winston, on a one-year deal, would be a no-brainer.
Jameis Winston may be a more realistic option for Bears after all originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
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