Buccaneers pick up Jameis Winston's fifth-year option

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- to the surprise of nobody -- are putting their faith in Jameis Winston.

The team on Tuesday picked up the quarterback's $20.922 million fifth-year option. The deadline to employ the injury-guaranteed option on players from Winston's 2015 draft class is May 2.

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times first reported the news.

There was no debate about Tampa's direction here. Winston's 45 starts over three seasons represent the steadiest work of quarterback play the Bucs have seen in eons. While not a perfect specimen under center, Winston's 69 touchdowns to 44 picks fairly represent his work to date. At just 24, the first-overall pick of the 2015 draft is a player the Bucs are determined to build around for years to come.

Option payouts aside, look for Tampa's front office to pursue a new long-term deal with Winston next offseason -- if not sooner.

Winston's 2017 campaign was an injury-plagued, up-and-down operation, but he showed well down the stretch for a Bucs team that never lived up to the hype as the subject of HBO's Hard Knocks. A little less premium-cable glitter from Tampa -- and a little more tangible production -- would go a long way come September.

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