Head coach Sean Payton thinks the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tanked to be able to secure the No. 1 overall pick: the pick they took Jameis Winston with.
Jameis Winston was clearly the No. 1 overall selection coming into the summer of the 2015 offseason. Coming out of Florida State, while Winston did have some off-the-field issues, his dominance on the field was clear. Every team from the Saints to Bucs could’ve used Winston.
The Bucs may have gone as far as tanking to bring him in. Not truly cheating, major sports leagues typically frown upon tanking. The NBA goes as far as giving the bottom three teams equal odds at snagging the No. 1 pick for the next draft.
However, the Bucs, if they were to lose this game, could’ve ended their season with just two wins, not tied at the bottom with three. The Saints, that season, were 7-9 and missed the playoffs because of the Panthers tie, as they ended a conference-best 7-8-1.
Head coach Sean Payton thinks the Bucs tanked the two team’s game towards the end of the season. It was the last game of the season, and the Saints ended up winning 23-20. The Saints were down 20-7 entering the final quarter.
“Heck, they lost a game on purpose to us at the end of the season prior with [head coach] Lovie Smith. They forced Lovie to take his starters out of the game so they could get the one spot to draft Jameis,” Payton said in an interview with CBS Sports.
Could Payton be right? Absolutely.
Winston was seen as one of the best prospects and could’ve been the organization’s franchise quarterback. Even after a Pro Bowl rookie season, the sky-high expectations surrounding his game were still there.
It wasn’t until this last season that the Bucs decided it was time to cut ties, no longer seeing that potential.
Winston had a career-high and league-high in yards to go with a league-high 30 interceptions. He just wasn’t accurate, and Winston, wanting to learn and not just enter another undesirable situation, is taking his talent to the Big Easy.
Let’s be real — if the Saints were in a position to gain the No. 1 pick from tanking the last half of a meaningless game, you’d want them to do it too.