Winston (suspension) entered the game on the Buccaneers' third possession in a 26-24 preseason win over the Dolphins on Thursday. He completed 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Winston entered the game in the second quarter and had a key 19-yard completion to Freddie Martino during his first possession, a drive that culminated in a three-yard touchdown run by second-round pick Ronald Jones II. The fourth-year quarterback subsequently connected with rookie Justin Watson and Cameron Brate on his second series, putting on a crisp performance overall before giving way to Ryan Griffin for the entirety of the second half. The night went about as well as it could have for Winston, who the Bucs are trying to afford enough work before he leaves the team to serve a three-game suspension to open the regular season. He'll likely see a similar workload when the Bucs take on the Titans in their second preseason game a week from Saturday.
Ryan Fitzpatrick opened with the first-team offense as expected, while Ryan Griffin started off directing the second-team group. However, it wasn't long before Winston started mixing in, eventually rotating in with all three offensive teams but logging the majority of his reps with the second unit according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. While the entire scenario is far from ideal, Winston appears to be facing it with the right approach on the surface, remarking Thursday that the current circumstances will give him an opportunity to "lead behind the scenes" for the time being.
Winston (suspension), whose $20.9 million fifth-year team option for 2019 is only guaranteed against injury, could be released by the team for any other reason at any time before March 13 of next year without related financial penalty, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports.
If Winston doesn't suffer any injury during the 2018 campaign that carries over into next offseason, the Bucs retain the right to revoke the option at any time before 4pm ET on March 13, 2019, the beginning of the new league year. That contingency officially became part of the overall conversation regarding Winston on Thursday, when the NFL publicly announced his three-game suspension for violation of the league's personal conduct policy. Laine further reports that Winston is owed $3.89 million for the 2018 campaign (he'll forfeit $124,411.76 of that in the form of the three game checks he'll miss, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports), but that the Bucs would naturally be off the hook for all or part of that in the unlikely scenario they sought out and found a trade partner for the embattled fourth-year quarterback before the fifth day of training camp. They could also opt to release Winston altogether at some point during the remainder of the current calendar year, which would trigger a $4,9 million hit in dead cap money according to Spotrac. However, what seems the most conceivable -- although still relatively improbable for the time being -- in terms of a divorce is the Bucs opting to move on from Winston next offseason if they remain dissatisfied with his personal conduct, on-field performance or a combination of the two. As per the terms of his suspension, the 24-year-old is eligible to fully participate in training camp and preseason games. However, he'll then be forced to leave the team after the final preseason contest and remain away from the facility until Tuesday, Sept. 25, the first day of Week 4 of the coming season.
Winston will not appeal his three-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports.
Winston -- who issued a statement Thursday apologizing for the incident that led to his suspension -- will thus be eligible to make his regular-season debut Sept. 30, when the Buccaneers face the Bears in Chicago. In his absence, veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick is slated to start the team's first three contests in 2018. In the meantime, Winston is permitted to participate in all of the Buccaneers' preseason activities, including games.
The NFL suspended Winston three games for a violation of the personal conduct policy, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
The event in question was first reported on Nov. 17 and has been on Winston's periphery in the interim. Specifically, a female Uber driver reported Winston to the company in March of 2016 for an incident of alleged groping. While she never filed a criminal or civil complaint, it was enough for the NFL to look into the situation. With a suspension in place, Winston will miss the first three games of the upcoming campaign, making him eligible to return Sept. 30 at Chicago. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick is slated to start three contests for the 11th consecutive season.
|4||9/30/18||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 5|
|6||10/14/18||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|8||10/28/18||@ CIN||1:00 pm|
|9||11/4/18||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|11||11/18/18||@ NYG||1:00 pm|
|15||12/16/18||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|16||12/23/18||@ DAL||1:00 pm|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||16||535||312||58.3||4042||7.56||68||22||15||27/190||57||9||84.2|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||16||567||345||60.8||4090||7.21||45||28||18||35/239||43||4||86.1|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13||13||442||282||63.8||3504||7.93||70||19||11||33/207||32||5||92.2|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0||0||0||0||---||0||---||0||0||0||0/0||0||0||---|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||16||54||213||3.9||21||6||2||18|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||16||53||165||3.1||14||1||0||10|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13||13||33||135||4.1||17||1||0||7|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0||0||0||0||---||0||0||0||0|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||2||2.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13||2||2.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0||0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||6||2||0||4||0||0||4||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||10||6||0||3||0||0||3||0|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13||15||7||0||7||0||0||7||0|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|