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Buccaneers: Jameis Winston will be QB next season

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Jameis Winston will be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer in 2019.

General manager Jason Licht confirmed Monday the team has no plans to cut the quarterback who is entering the last year of his contract.

"Jameis Winston will be here," Licht said. "We have him under contract for a year. He has done some amazing things for a young -- 24, turns 25 in a week -- quarterback that has accomplished more than most of the elite quarterbacks have at his age throughout ... that timespan. There's a lot to like about Jameis. Jameis will be here next year."

The Bucs telegraphed their decision with Winston by playing him the final weeks of the season. If the team had already decided to move on, they would have benched the quarterback to ensure he didn't get injured -- and thus make his contract guaranteed in 2019.

Winston is set to earn $20.922 million next season, the fifth and final year of his rookie deal.

Winston missed the first three games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's personal-contact policy. He was then benched twice before regaining his starting job down the stretch.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2015 hasn't progressed since his rookie season. Winston has shown himself to be a turnover-prone scatterbrain who has made too many mental errors in his four seasons. In just 11 games in 2018, Winston threw 14 interceptions and lost three fumbles. On his career, he's accounted for 76 turnovers in 56 games.

The upside with Winston, however, is high. When he's not displaying skittish feet in the pocket, and can see his reads and step into throws, Winston has a starting-caliber arm and can make splash throws.

The 2019 campaign will be a crucial one for Winston's future, in Tampa and/or elsewhere.

The quarterback will surely be considered when Tampa selects its next new coach -- as he was the key reason Licht replaced Lovie Smith with Dirk Koetter in 2016.

Licht, however, noted Winston would not be part of the head-coaching search.

"We're not going to involve Jameis in that decision. But Jameis is someone we hold in high regard," Licht said.

For at least one more season, the Bucs will allow Winston to pilot the ship. Into what uncharted waters that vessel will float remains a looming question.

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