There have been some high expectations placed on Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston heading into his third season in the NFL, and Buccaneers’ general manager Jason Licht certainly isn’t throwing water on that fire.
In fact, he may have actually added to it.
HBO’s Hard Knocks is a great show in that it provides us with insight into the life of NFL players, coaches, and general managers as they prepare for the rigors of a season in the league. The show also can give an inside scoop — at times — to conversations and dialogs that the general public usually wouldn’t hear, and that’s what happened on the latest episode.
Licht was speaking to Tampa Bay Lighting assistant general manager Julien BriseBois, who was on a visit to Licht’s office, and he brought up Winston’s draw, specifically mentioning new wideout DeSean Jackson and his willingness to join the ‘Bucs.
“If you’ve got a guy like Jameis, he’s the reason we got [receiver] DeSean Jackson, because DeSean turned down more money to come here because he wanted to play with him,” Licht told Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Julien BriseBois, who was visiting his office.
That’s high praise from someone very high up in Tampa Bay — at the very top, in fact — but Licht didn’t end there.
“Yes. He’s the best leader I think I’ve ever been around — in anything,” he said when asked if Tampa Bay knew of Winston’s leadership abilities when they drafted him No. 1 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Talk about a vote of confidence, this had to be a huge boost for Winston to hear, and it’s a safe bet to assume that Licht has told him his feelings in person and not just through an HBO screen.
And for what it’s worth, Winston does have everything you look for in a quarterback in 2017. He’s big, strong and athletic. He needs to do a better job of protecting the football, but if he can get that down in year three there’s no reason why he can’t be a top 10 NFL quarterback.
It’s rather obvious that Tampa loves him most for his leadership, though, and that leadership will be tested this season.
The expectations are rising in the Bay, not just for Winston, but for Tampa in general, so the Buccaneers will need Winston to rise to the occasion — and that’s all about leadership.