The first pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft may not belong to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after all. According to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports, teams have been reaching out to Tampa Bay and discussing a possible trade for that top spot. The Buccaneers, at the same time, are willing to hear various offers, so they’re not as locked in on Jameis Winston as, say, the Colts were on Andrew Luck in 2012.
Now, nothing has materialized. No team—so far—has given Tampa an offer they can’t refuse. It’s not even clear at this time if offers have actually been made or if teams just want to know what type of trade would interest Tampa.
Before people jump all over this and say the Bucs don’t want Winston, they’re really just being smart. It’s the team’s responsibility to review all options. What if someone came up and said they’d trade the next five first-round choices for Winston, plus a starting quarterback? Not that it’s going to happen, but the Bucs must know what types of offers are out there. They can then weigh those offers against the value they think Winston holds and make the right choice.
It’s not a sign of a lack of faith in the FSU product. The Bucs still like Winston and will probably take him, but they’d feel like fools if a team came out after the draft and said they would have offered some insane deal, but Tampa just refused to hear about it in advance.
In today’s NFL, no player is safe. The Packers would trade Aaron Rodgers for the right price, and he was the best player in football last year. Granted, that price is higher than any team would be willing to pay—as it likely is for Winston—but there are no untradable players. None.
The big reason to listen is because Tampa Bay needs more pieces than just a QB. They may need a running back, as no back managed to break even 500 yards last season. They have a good set of wideouts, but they could use a lot of offensive line upgrades to keep their quarterbacks from getting hit. They could also use more pass rush and defensive line help. If a trade package was big enough, it may be worth more than Winston, no matter how bright of a prospect he is.
On top of that, the Bucs have not yet announced if they’ll take Winston at all; there are some—though they are in the minority—who think Marcus Mariota could go first overall. If there’s even a question, it just highlights how they have to do their due diligence and consider all options.
What if the Bucs want Mariota, but the Titans don’t know it? The Titans, meanwhile, are interested in Winston. What if they offer their first round pick (No. 2 overall) and more to flip spots and pick first overall? The Bucs would love a deal like that because they’d get their man and get some additional picks. They’d win all the way around.
All in all, Winston still feels like the lock as the top pick. None of this seems out of the ordinary or exceptional. However, if something is brewing and teams are feeling out the Bucs’ position because they’re going to come calling with big offers on draft night, things could get very interesting, very quickly.