A pair of franchise quarterbacks could see their teams give that designation to someone else.
The Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston and the Raiders’ Derek Carr could see their runs with the only franchise they’ve each ever played for soon come to an end, with each team’s leadership failing to endorse the return of either longtime starter.
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions last season. Even after playing 72 games in five seasons with the Bucs, head coach Bruce Arians labeled the 26-year-old an “unknown quantity.” With reigning NFL sack leader Shaq Barrett also a potential free agent, Arians made the team’s priority clear at the NFL combine.
“One is the sack leader. They’re hard to find and I know he wants to be in this defense,” Arians said of Barrett. “The other is an unknown quantity to me still. Five thousand yards and (33) touchdowns is awesome. Thirty interceptions … can we win with Jameis? Hell yeah. There’s no doubt.
“As a head coach you have to decide ‘is there a better option?’”
Since drafting Winston, the Bucs have gone 32-48 and haven’t made the playoffs. The team has the option to place the franchise tag on the former Florida State Heisman Trophy winner.
At 7-7 in mid-December, the Bucs lost their final two games of the regular season. Winston finished the month with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, including a game-ending interception returned for a touchdown in the finale against the Falcons.
“December wasn’t what I wanted,” Arians said of Winston’s play. “It wasn’t what I was hoping to see.”
Meanwhile, the Raiders prepare for their first season in Las Vegas with Carr potentially being ousted as starter after six years. The Raiders and Buccaneers have been linked as potential destinations for Tom Brady, should the legendary quarterback leave New England as a free agent.
Though Las Vegas GM Mike Mayock praised Carr’s play Tuesday, the second-year general manager also wouldn’t commit to Carr keeping his job in the fall.
“Derek Carr played at a high level. I’m very happy with Derek Carr. What I’ve told everybody I’ve been in touch with since the day I took this job is we’re going to evaluate every position every year, and if we can get better, we will,” he said. “Guys get tired of me saying that, but that’s really what I told [Raiders owner] Mark Davis before I took the job and that’s my mantra.”
Carr, 28, signed a five-year, $125 million extension before the 2017 season. He has made three Pro Bowl appearances (2015-17), and just set career-highs in passing yards (4,054) and completion percentage (70.4), while throwing for 21 TD passes and eight interceptions last season.
However, the Raiders ranked 24th in scoring, and missed the playoffs for the third straight season and 16th time in 17 years.