The media hasn’t been talking about Jameis Winston’s incident with an Uber driver last March, but the Buccaneers quarterback still could be suspended.
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going anywhere this season, they’re going to need a huge season out of quarterback Jameis Winston. To have that kind of season, Winston needs to be available for all 16 regular season games. There’s still a chance the NFL will prevent that from happening.
The league still hasn’t concluded their investigation about what went on between Winston and an Uber driver in March of 2016. The driver claimed that Winston groped her in a drive-thru at a Mexican restaurant. If the NFL deems those claims to be credible, Winston could be forced to sit out several games under the league’s personal conduct policy.
From the team’s perspective, losing Winston for any number of games could prove disastrous. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a capable backup quarterback, but the Buccaneers don’t want him to be a starter for any length of time. Dirk Koetter and the team’s coaching staff base a lot of their offensive principles around Winston’s ability to drive the ball down the field. Fitzpatrick just doesn’t throw the ball with the same kind of authority.
The good news for Buccaneers fans is that the NFL will likely want to resolve this situation sooner rather than later. If Roger Goodell does want to levy a suspension against Winston, the prudent thing to do would be to give him time to appeal the ruling before the regular season begins. Forcing Winston to miss games due to suspension and then seeing that decision overturned after the fact would be a public relations nightmare for the league. The NFL certainly doesn’t want to expose itself to any unneeded public criticism.
Buccaneers fans shouldn’t panic at this point, but they should be keeping an eye on this storyline. If Winston is suspended at all it could end Tampa Bay’s hopes for a playoff run in 2018.