Bucs co-chairman: Uber allegations, outbursts don't change perception of Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston has the support of the Bucs' front office despite the current investigation into the former No. 1 pick. Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston might have had some struggles on and off the field in 2017 -- a 5-11 season marred by a shoulder injury to his throwing arm, a pair of in-game outbursts and allegations that he groped a female Uber driver -- but none of those impact his perception in the eyes of Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer.

In fact, Glazer still believes he's the guy they brought him in to be.

"The Jameis Winston that has been on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since the day we drafted him has been a model in the community, a model in the locker room," Glazer said at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando.

"He's the first guy in the building, the last guy to leave the building, playing through pain, with injuries most people probably wouldn't play for. So he's done everything we were drawing up on the drawing board as our quarterback and the person we drafted."

When asked specifically if the Uber allegations had impacted how he views Winston, Glazer responded emphatically, "Absolutely not."

Glazer, who runs the team with brothers Bryan and Ed Glazer and sister Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, signed off on Winston being drafted in 2015, along with then-head coach Lovie Smith and current general manager Jason Licht. After an exhaustive search, they felt comfortable selecting him despite a high-profile sexual assault investigation stemming from a 2012 encounter with a female student at Florida State.

The school reached a $950,000 settlement with the female student. She then filed a civil suit against Winston and Winston filed a counterclaim, with both parties reaching a settlement agreement in 2016.

When Winston arrived in Tampa, he quickly became one of the most visible players in the community, spending time with terminally ill children and Special Olympians after practice at One Buc Place -- even video recording custom messages and FaceTiming with them -- and becoming an ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He also has served as the lead spokesperson for the Glazer Family Foundation Buccaneer Academy initiative with Kassewitz, helping students and teachers at 24 schools in economically stressed areas.

The Uber driver came forward in November 2017, accusing Winston of grabbing her crotch at a Scottsdale, Arizona, drive-thru. She said the incident took place in March 2016.

"The NFL has their policies and their processes, and they're going through it," Glazer said. "All we can do is focus on the offseason and doing what we can control, and I know Jameis is working hard and doing all the things he does -- not only preparing for the season, but in the community and off the field, and being the person he's been since we've drafted him."

There is no timetable for the investigation. The team did get some extra insurance this offseason, re-signing veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal.

"[We're] very, very hopeful that we won't miss any time with Jameis. But right now, we don't have any control of that," said head coach Dirk Koetter, who said that the pace of the league's investigation, which is nearing the five-month mark, have made things trying.

"To be honest, it is a little frustrating," he said. "But I really don't think about that a whole lot because, one, we have no control over it, and two, I'm not involved in it. I mean, I really don't know where that's at. I don't have any knowledge of any of that. It's just one of those things we don't have control over, so we have to move ahead."

Licht added: "It's frustrating, but it's out of our hands. We're cooperating, and I'm sure they're doing their due diligence."

No charges were filed, but the NFL has circumvented the law on a number of investigations, something Glazer acknowledged.

"While there is frustration, it's the hand you're dealt, and you've just got to plow through it. It's just part of the adversity you face," Glazer said. "Let the NFL do what they're going to do, run their process. We're going to focus on next season and get prepared."

On-the-field, turnovers remain Winston's biggest issue. He has thrown the second-most interceptions in the league (44) since 2015 and turned the ball over 59 times in 45 games. In 2017 alone, he had 18 turnovers, tied for second-most in the league at any position. He also struggled with deep-ball accuracy last season, which meant the Bucs couldn't capitalize on DeSean Jackson's speed.

Winston was 6-of-27 on passing attempts with 30 or more air yards (22.2 percent), 21st in the NFL. He went 1-for-9 on passing attempts of 40 or more air yards (11.1 percent), 25th in the league. In an offense predicated on explosive playmaking, with receivers who have struggled to get yards after the catch, Winston has to be able to hit those downfield throws.

Composure has also been an issue. He was fined $12,154 after Week 9 for tapping New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore in the back of the helmet, instigating an altercation between Lattimore and wide receiver Mike Evans. Winston also attempted to charge after an official in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers when he lost a fumble, nearly knocking Bucs director of football operations Shelton Quarles to the ground.

Glazer doesn't necessarily see Winston's emotional outbursts as a bad thing. Such mistakes are costly, but he appreciates the passion and the disdain for losing. He also believes that at 24, Winston is going to learn how to better handle himself in those situations and that the future still looks bright.

"He wants to win, and he's frustrated," Glazer said. "He's still young. The team hasn't had the success that he's used to and he's frustrated, but he's also playing with injury -- that's frustrating. At the end of the day, he's got the will and the want to win. And as you gain experience and go through these experiences, you live and learn. We all do that."