Ryan Tannehill is the perfect Bucs stop-gap to move off Jameis Winston

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to see the writing on the wall. If they move off Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill can be a great stop-gap quarterback for them.

We can see it now.

No, it’s not the much-anticipated uniform reveal coming up in a few weeks, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a huge decision to make at the quarterback position this offseason. Former first-overall pick Jameis Winston will be hitting his unrestricted free agency. Though he could return on a new contract, it seems less likely with each passing day.

Not since the George W. Bush Administration have the Buccaneers tasted postseason football. They have a head coach in Bruce Arians who stabilized a chaotic situation in the Arizona desert in his last NFL job. The Buccaneers have star players on defense to contend in the NFC South next season. All they need is a quarterback who doesn’t average nearly two picks per game.

If the Buccaneers see things clearly, they will let Winston walk after five years of service and sign a stop-gap quarterback, one who can bridge the gap before they draft their next franchise guy.

The perfect guy to come in to help take this mid-tier NFC team over the top is impending free-agent quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

After washing out with the hapless Miami Dolphins, Tannehill found great success with the 2019 Tennessee Titans. He assumed the starting quarterback job once Winston’s Heisman brother Marcus Mariota became ineffective. Tannehill played great complementary football off bell-cow back Derrick Henry, reaching the Pro Bowl and AFC Championship game for the first time.

There are several reasons why Tannehill is the right guy to fill the quarterbacking void in Tampa Bay if the Buccaneers were to not re-sign Winston. Tannehill is essentially a more skilled version of what the Buccaneers already had in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Both signal-callers are cerebral, mobile and unafraid to throw the ball downfield. He could thrive in Arians’ vertical passing offense.

Tannehill will be 32 years old in 2020 with several years of football ahead of him. Because the Titans have several star players hitting free agency this spring, there are no guarantees he’ll be back in Nashville. If the Titans actively pursue Tom Brady in his impending free agency, then Tannehill is potentially gone regardless. Tampa Bay could offer Tannehill the starting job in 2020.

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Overall, Arians would love to land a quarterback who is a gamer, who plays hard every down and who averages only slightly more than 11.5 interceptions per season. Tannehill is not a long-term solution wherever he goes, but he could be the right kind of quarterbacking upgrade the Buccaneers are looking for to help them get over the top in the always-competitive NFC South.