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Friday, January 24, 2020

Jameis Winston

5 potential destinations for veteran NFL QBs likely on the move in 2020

Cam Newton tie

The NFL is a vicious business sometimes. More than a handful of veteran quarterbacks with a history of proven success are about to find that out firsthand.

What have you done for me lately? The answer to that question is what keeps people employed or leads to a pink slip. The good news is that one team’s trash can be another’s treasure.

With that in mind, here’s a look at five veteran quarterbacks who could be on the move in 2020, and where they might ultimately land.

5. Cam Newton, Chicago Bears

The Carolina Panthers will likely look to trade Newton this offseason, but are said to be looking for a substantial haul in return. That desire could make the former MVP difficult to move. But if Carolina is legitimately committed to moving on from the quarterback, those trade demands are bound to come down. If and when they do, the Bears are the most obvious potential destination for Newton; the two sides have been connected via rumor and speculation for a month. And while Mitchell Trubisky has played better of late, the Bears are unlikely to hitch their wagon to him long term. The possibility remains that Trubisky is merely on a hot streak, opening the door to a quarterback change in 2020. A combination of Cam Newton and a dominant defense may be too much for Chicago to pass up.

4. Marcus Mariota, Miami Dolphins

It’s clear that Mariota’s time with the Tennessee Titans is over, especially now that Ryan Tannehill is playing well and earning himself a new deal in 2020. So how ironic and fitting would it be if Mariota were to sign with the Dolphins, Tannehill’s old team, in 2020? I’m not suggesting it just to be cute, either. As odd as it would be for the two to swap places that way, it would actually make some sense. Tannehill has proven that a change of scenery can sometimes spark improved play, and with Miami having soured on Josh Rosen and unlikely to hang onto Ryan Fitzpatrick long term, a dual-threat player like Mariota may be just what the doctor ordered. Signing Mariota would also save Miami from having to invest a first-round pick into a quarterback, although they might do so anyway — and it’s likely the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner would come at a very team-friendly price.

3. Eli Manning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Manning is in the final year of his contract with the New York Giants, and it’s no secret to anyone that he’ll be gone after the season. Whether that means Manning retires or looks to play elsewhere remains to be seen, but if it’s the latter, there will be a few suitors for the two-time Super Bowl MVP. Many assume reuniting with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville would be the most logical step for Manning, but with Jameis Winston possible out in Tampa Bay, Manning could be an interesting potential option for Bruce Arians & Co. The team is built to compete, has a talented supporting cast, and would fit Manning’s style. It would also allow Tampa Bay to draft their future quarterback and have him learn under Manning for a year or two.

2. Philip Rivers, Carolina Panthers

Rivers’ time with the Los Angeles Chargers appears to be winding down, and retirement could be an option this offseason. If not, Rivers will be among the hottest veteran quarterback commodities. Unfortunately for Rivers, there will be an overwhelming amount of competition for just a few jobs, so he’ll need to find the right fit. And assuming the Panthers move on from Newton as expected, Carolina may ultimately prove to be his destination. With a new head coach incoming and Kyle Allen not viewed as the answer, Carolina could opt for a player with Rivers’ pedigree in hopes of putting them over the top and back into playoff contention. Not to mention, Rivers is a noted family man who played his college ball at NC State, so returning home may be an ideal scenario for him.

1. Tom Brady, Denver Broncos

No one genuinely believes the New England Patriots and Tom Brady will part ways after this season, but more and more evidence continues to pile up suggesting that a split could happen. And if there is a separation, even at the age of 42, Brady immediately becomes the No. 1 free agent target in all of football. Enter John Elway and the Broncos, who, despite having invested in rookie Drew Lock, would welcome Brady with open arms knowing that they’d become immediate Super Bowl contenders. A move to Denver would also pair Brady with Mike Munchak, who is one of the most successful offensive line coaches in football, providing Brady with all the protection he could possibly need to continue his NFL domination. I know, I know … it all sounds so crazy, but as Tom Brady Sr. recently said, even Joe Montana went on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Anything is possible.

Jameis Winston struggling to grip football with hand injury

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston is on the verge of becoming the first player in NFL history to throw 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season, but he may fall short of that mark if his hand injury forces him to sit out in Week 15.

Winston suffered an injury to his throwing hand in last week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said an X-ray revealed a tiny fracture. Winston played through the injury for much of the game, but he has not been able to throw footballs in practice this week. He was spotted throwing tennis balls on Thursday.

That certainly isn’t a good sign for Winston’s availability. The Bucs are no longer in playoff contention, so there isn’t any real incentive to have Winston play. He may push to play since he is scheduled to become a free agent this winter, but he has enough trouble protecting the ball when his hand is healthy.

The Bucs already lost Mike Evans in last week’s game when he injured himself on one of his patented long touchdown catches, and they could be even more shorthanded than expected against the Detroit Lions.

Jameis Winston suffers hand injury against Colts

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston began the second half of Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts on the sideline, but he apparently was not benched for struggling to protect the football once again.

The Bucs announced early in the second half that Winston was questionable to return with an injury to his throwing hand. Veteran backup Ryan Griffin took his place.

There was speculation that Winston was benched by head coach Bruce Arians, which would not have been shocking. Winston threw two interceptions in the first half, one of which the Colts returned for a touchdown. That brought his total to a whopping 22 interceptions on the season.

Tampa Bay already lost wide receiver Mike Evans earlier in the game when he came up lame on a long touchdown catch. Depending upon how serious both injuries are, the Bucs could be shorthanded going forward.

Jameis Winston still squinting, having trouble with his vision?

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston has thrown so many interceptions during his NFL career that it is fair to wonder if he is seeing the field correctly, and we don’t mean that in the sense of reading a defense. Winston has had some issues with his vision in the past, which is why it was noteworthy that he was seen squinting during Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Winston watched as Seahawks kicker Jason Meyers tried to give Seattle a win with a 40-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation, and the quarterback was shown squinting.

Of course, squinting can just be a habit and doesn’t always mean a person is having trouble seeing. However, we know from Winston’s days at Florida State that he needs contact lenses but never used to like wearing them when he played. That led to times when it looked like he was having trouble seeing plays that were being relayed from the sideline. Bucs fans have noticed him giving the same look during games this season.

Winston already has 12 picks in eight games this year, and he’s constantly making poor decisions and throwing into double coverage. Head coach Bruce Arians recently defended him over the turnovers, and it would be hard to believe he wouldn’t have corrected his vision by now if it was truly an issue. But if Winston’s vision is less than 20-20 during games, he might want to address that.

Jameis Winston looking to snap abysmal road streak against Panthers

Jameis Winston

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are able to go into Carolina and come away with a win over the Panthers on Thursday night, they would be accomplishing a very rare feat. To be frank, Jameis Winston probably does not even remember what it feels like to win a game on the road.

Winston enters Thursday’s game having lost 12 straight road starts. His last win on the road came in San Diego, which no longer has an NFL team.

While the stat is alarming, it is somewhat deceiving. You could make the case that Winston has played poorly over the past few seasons and needs to do a better job of protecting the football, but his performance on the road hasn’t been much different from at home. Tampa’s defense, however, is another story.

Winton has 17 multi-interception games since 2015, which is the most in the NFL during that span. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said Thursday that his team needs to stop turning the ball over, and another ugly Winston stat highlights just how important that is.

Arians has experience working with some of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, and he would not have taken the Bucs job if he didn’t think he could help Winston straighten out his NFL career. The veteran coach was highly critical of some other areas of his team during the preseason, and he can’t like what he saw in Week 1. If Winston could somehow avoid interceptions, it would go a long way toward getting Tampa’s offense turned around.

Watch: Kwon Alexander ejected for helmet-to-helmet hit on Jameis Winston

Kwon Alexander got a chance to face his former team on Sunday when his San Francisco 49ers took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the veteran did not make it through the first quarter because of an ill-advised play.

Jameis Winston ran for a first down early in the game and went into a slide, but Alexander hit him anyway. Not only did the hit appear late, but Alexander clearly led with his helmet and made helmet-to-helmet contact with Winston. He was penalized 15 yards and ejected.

The NFL has made an effort to crack down on plays like that, and players are now subject to an immediate ejection for a first offense the same way they are at the collegiate level. Alexander may have been playing with a little added motivation as a former Buc, but that play is going to result in an ejection every time.

Week 1 featured multiple ejections across the NFL, with Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack also getting tossed from an earlier game for throwing a swing at an opponent. Jack basically had to be dragged off the field after he was forced to leave.

Alexander, a fourth-round pick in 2014, spent the first four years of his career in Tampa before signing a four-year, $54 million deal with the 49ers this past offseason.

10 players to watch during NFL training camp

Andrew Luck

Training camps across the NFL are well underway and the battles are beginning to play out. There are many reasons to pay attention to what happens on the practice field. There can be significant injuries, players who are surprising, others who don’t look sharp, and those who are putting their stamp on a job. There are also comeback stories and players to watch for a whole host of reasons.

Here are ten players whose training camp performance bears watching closely.

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts

After missing all of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury, Andrew Luck returned in 2018 and put on a show. He bounced back with 39 touchdown passes and a career-best 430 completions and 67.3 completion percentage while leading the Colts to a 10-6 record and playoff appearance. Everything looked good for 2019, but now Luck is dealing with a calf injury that has kept him out of minicamp and the start of training camp. The Colts better hope Luck is healthy in time for Week 1. If not, it would be Jacoby Brissett time.