When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the expectation was that he would be the franchise quarterback for years to come. After just five seasons, the NFC South organization let the former Florida State star walk in free agency.
In the 2020 offseason, Winston signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, looking for a chance to redeem himself after a rollercoaster half-decade in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers brought in Tom Brady and immediately won Super Bowl LV this past February.
Winston could do nothing but watch as his former team celebrated the victory. However, he found himself excited rather than jealous at the Buccaneers success.
In an interview on the "All Things Covered" podcast, Winston spoke candidly about how he felt seeing his former team win a Super Bowl in the year after he left.
"I just wish I was able to be a part of that. And I still look back and I’m just like, ‘OK, I’m somehow a part of that,’ just in terms of the mentality and the teammates that I built countless hours of work with. But at the end of the day, I’m excited for my teammates and that’s all I can be.
"I’m blessed that I have another opportunity for me to earn a Lombardi Trophy. I always say, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. And it was meant for them to win that Super Bowl this year. And I’m doing everything I can to earn me a Super Bowl. That’s the mentality. I can’t sit here and hate on my teammates. Like, yeah I wanted to be a part of the Super Bowl. I live here. I want to be throwing Lombardi Trophies across boats. But at the end of the day, I want to be competing and being a starting quarterback in this league and give my team an opportunity to win [a championship]. I can’t take nothing away from them. That’s what I want, man."
Winston did mention that he's communicated with his former Buccaneers teammates and congratulated them on the victory.
“I congratulated everybody that I could think of in that organization — I sent them a text and congratulated them,” Winston said. “I had a chance to be with ‘BA’ [Bruce Arians] and those coaches for one year, and I saw how they were coming in with a new mentality, they were coming in meaning business. … You saw the strides that they took. And it paid off.”
Headed into his second year away from Tampa Bay, Winston is poised to take over the Saints starting job after re-signing with the team this offseason. That means he'll get the chance to be on the field against the Buccaneers twice in 2021, which will surely bring back another group of mixed emotions.