Jameis Winston free agency tracker: Top landing spots, projected contract, latest updates, rumors and more

There was a time not too long ago that Jameis Winston had just completed his first season as the No. 1 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was headed toward a bright future. If you polled Buccaneers fans after Winston's rookie 2015 season, you'd likely get a similar positive reaction from the majority. There were aspects of his game that needed to be cleaned up, but from what he flashed as a rookie, it seemed like good times were finally ahead for a Buccaneers franchise that had fallen short on luck at the quarterback position time and time again. Fast forward to the 2020 offseason and the narrative surrounding Winston among the Tampa fanbase had changed abruptly -- but not nearly as fast as the franchise's decision to move on from their former No. 1 pick and sign future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.

Winston's first-ever pass in the NFL resulted in a pick-six. The final pass of his 2019 season and likely of his Buccaneers career also resulted in a pick-six. This capped off the first 30-touchdown, 30-interception season in NFL history. Five years later, he's still the same type of quarterback he was when he entered the league. Although he won't be returning to Tampa, Winston will be signing with a new team this offseason.

With all that in mind, we decided to create a one-stop destination for everything you need to know about Winston's first trip to free agency. Scroll down below to check out the best landing spots for Winston, his projected market value, a scouting report, and the latest news and rumors. We begin with potential destinations.

Top free agent landing spots for Winston

There are several teams that may have had some interest in signing Winston earlier this offseason, but those teams have since moved on and acquired other quarterbacks. The fallout leaves just a few teams in need of Winston's services as a starting quarterback. Ultimately, he may have to decide on accepting a job as a clear-cut No. 2 quarterback or on a roster with a No. 1 quarterback he can hope to beat out in camp, the preseason, or at some point during the regular season. These five teams stand out as the top remaining landing spots for Winston.

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. New Orleans Saints
  5. Buffalo Bills

Projected market value for Winston in free agency

According to Spotrac, Winston's market value resides at four years and $107.2 million for an average annual salary of $26.8 million -- basically, Matthew Stafford kind of money and it's not going to happen now that he has been sitting on the free agent market for over a week and nearly every starting quarterback job has been claimed. Look for Winston to sign something in the one-year, $7-10 million range.

Scouting report (pros and cons)

Pros

Cons

  • Decision making is his biggest issue. Speaking of that big arm, it often gets him in trouble. He creates a ton of big plays, but he also turns the ball over way too much by forcing it into traffic. He just threw 30 interceptions, seven of which were pick-sixes. Since he entered the league, he leads the NFL in interceptions with 88. The next closest player, Philip Rivers, has thrown 76 in that span. He's the most interception-prone quarterback in the league by a wide margin.
  • He's not secure with the football either. Winston fumbled 12 times this past season. His 50 fumbles since 2015 ranks first among quarterbacks -- tied with Kirk Cousins atop the table. In short, nobody turns the ball over more than Winston. It's difficult to win in the NFL with a quarterback who gives the ball away as often as Winston does.
  • His accuracy can, at times, be erratic. In 2019, he posted a completion percentage above expectation of negative-0.1, which ranked in the middle of the pack, right in between Sam Darnold and Daniel Jones, per Next Gen Stats. His interceptions aren't always about decision making. Sometimes they're about poorly placed throws.

Free agent timeline (updates, rumors, news)

Winston bids farewell to the Tampa faithful

Mar. 21: After news broke that Brady had signed with the Bucs, Winston reacted gracefully on social media. He had a message for the Bucs fans who supported him throughout along the way.

Bucs have a plan; but are keeping Winston in the dark

Feb. 25: At the combine, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians spoke about the team's quarterback situation

Our Jordan Dajani has the details:

During media availability on Tuesday ahead of the NFL Combine, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians was asked if he would let Winston reach free agency without a franchise tag. He responded that he hasn't made that decision yet, and will once he knows who else is available. Arians also said that they should know a lot more next week.

Shortly after his press conference, Arians joined NFL Network for another interview. He indicated to Andrew Siciliano that the Buccaneers know exactly what they are doing at the quarterback position, but that Winston does not know their plan. Per Ian Rapoport, Arians said that the team is doing their due diligence on "Door No. 2" to make sure they enter 2020 with the quarterback they are 100 percent confident in under center. 

Reading between the lines, it certainly sounds like Arians would like to sign a better quarterback than Winston, but understands that he might be forced to run it back with Winston again in 2020.

Bucs could keep Winston on a two-year deal 

Feb. 20: ESPN's Jenna Laine reported that the Buccaneers have considered giving Winston a two-year deal, with the second year being a team option.  

As also noted above, the Buccaneers could hit Winston with the transition tag, which is cheaper than the franchise tag and would give them a chance to match any offer that Winston garners from another team.

Bruce Arians refuses to commit to Winston

Feb. 13: The Buccaneers coach never minces words, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to hear that he recently refused to commit to Winston as his quarterback of the future. Arians knows there are a ton of moving pieces this offseason, so he wants to wait and watch the market before he makes a decision on Winston.

"No, because you don't know who's available," Arians told ESPN's Jenna Laine. "You're just sitting and waiting to see, is there someone available? And is he a better option? 

"That's the problem. You get about three days to decide -- the legal tampering (period). Is somebody else going to get let go? What's the trade values? It's really monotonous right now because you don't really have any answers."

Winston fixes vision problem

Feb. 12: Winston recently underwent LASIK surgery to fix his eyesight.

Our Jordan Dajani explains:

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay TimesWinston underwent LASIK surgery this month to repair his eyesight. Winston has apparently been nearsighted since college, and head coach Bruce Arians even commented on it during the final press conference of 2019.

"He can't read the scoreboard but he can see the guys in front of him," Arians said. "So he's alright."

We'll have to wait and see if that helps Winston avoid throwing the ball to the other team.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

Our Latest Stories