By Nick Shook
Around The NFL writer
Read full post on NFL.com
Jameis Winston is aiming to be himself, but an improved version — and to prove Jackson’s true value in the process.
Winston took to Twitter to respond to a Tampa Bay Times story questioning what the team will do with Jackson.
On the surface, the Jackson conundrum — $12.5 million for 50 catches, 668 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games in 2017 — seems to have only one logical solution: Trade the 31-year-old receiver. The blame wasn’t solely on Jackson, though, which Winston seems to acknowledge with his tweet.
As a whole, Tampa Bay underachieved on both sides of the ball. Jackson didn’t experience the big-play success envisioned when he signed with the Bucs. He probably didn’t anticipate spending a fourth of his season running routes for Ryan Fitzpatrick, either.
Year Two of the marriage could be the last. Tampa Bay is on the hook for a cap hit of $11 million, with $7.5 million guaranteed to Jackson in 2018, per Over The Cap. After that, they can part ways without a cap hit. Should they do it prior, they’ll face a $7.5 million hit for a player who still offers value to an offense that could use a deep threat opposite Mike Evans.
That same offense could use a version of Winston that makes fewer reckless decisions. The quarterback turned the ball over 18 times (11 interceptions, seven fumbles lost) in 13 games last season, which surprisingly was only his second-highest total in that category. He posted 24 turnovers in 2016.
Having said all of this, if Winston makes good on his word and reveals Jackson’s true value, Tampa Bay could be nearing a significant improvement. With Evans, Jackson, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate and up-and-comer Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers are set up in terms of pass-catchers for Winston to thrive; it’s just a matter of putting it all together.