No baseball for Winston while he’s a Buc

Jameis WinstonRemember when everyone went crazy over Jameis Winston saying he’d love to be a dual-sport athlete? Remember when I said to stop worrying because the Bucs can protect themselves from that happening? Well, the team did just that. 

According to Peter King’s latest MMQB column, King says the Bucs included a clause in Winston’s contract that says he can’t play baseball.

In the contract, a Bucs’ source said, is a clause prohibiting Winston from playing professional baseball during the life of his Tampa Bay deal.

Both sides agreed on a four-year, $23.35 million deal that includes a $16.7 million signing bonus and a fifth-year club option. The standard nowadays for rookie contracts.

Winston’s contract is merely the least of his worries. News headlines have and will continue to follow him as he makes the leap into the NFL. The 21-year-old Florida State product will have to be careful what he says and does and how he goes about life. It’s an unfortunate case because of the society we live in today.

But Winston has shown he is ready to move on and is handling the issue with maturity when King asked him about a Tampa Bay Times headline that read “LOVE HIM OR HATE HIM NOW HE’S A BUC.”

“Just a newspaper article. Headlines,” Winston tells King. “I had to grow the last couple of years, because of what I’ve done, because of what I have brought on myself. It’s all a part of growing up. I can’t change people’s opinions of me. I just gotta keep getting better every day, as a player and as a man.”

Many are still not on board with the selection. For the Bucs, it’s been some time that their marriage has been in the works. But that was based on the information that TBC received since last October. For general Manager Jason Licht, he had his mind made up since last year’s quarterback class.

You can trace the chase of Winston to Draft Day 2014, as crazy as it sounds. On the scouting trail, Licht became enamored with Winston, knowing he might leave FSU for the 2015 draft, after his second season as the starter. Licht’s brother-in-law asked him via a draft-day text last year whether he preferred Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater in the first round.

“Winston,” was Licht’s reply.

There was a wild card in all this and that was head coach Lovie Smith.

Smith had yet to form an opinion on Winston up until the Rose Bowl. I reported days after the game that I was informed Smith came away “extremely impressed” with the FSU product. On Monday morning, King revealed in his column how Licht and Smith’s conversations went after the Rose Bowl.

“One of the pivotal moments came when Lovie and I went to the Rose Bowl,” says Licht, of the Jan. 1 game that pitted Oregon against FSU, Mariota against Winston, the two best quarterbacks facing off. “We got on the plane here in Tampa and Lovie pulled out his [Microsoft] Surface to watch tape, and I didn’t even want to see what he was looking at. I wanted Lovie to come to his own decision, not influenced in any way by me.”

After the game, in the car back to the hotel, Licht was dying to know. He said to Smith: “All right, Lovie. Who’s your guy?”

“Jase, you know who it is,” Smith said.

If you haven’t gotten used to it by now, I suggest you do so. This Bucs-Winston marriage can go on for quite some time.

But of course, Winston has to get to his second contract first. Something no quarterback in Buccaneers history has been able to do.

Photo courtesy of Buccaneers.com

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