Arians: Bucs’ top offseason priority is defense, not QB

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Thursday that the team’s top offseason priority is its defense, as opposed to addressing the status of quarterback Jameis Winston.

“Oh, yeah. To me, it’s the whole defense,” Arians said, via ESPN. “You can’t get ’em all, but … those young guys grew. We can’t let that go. I don’t care who’s my quarterback. We’ve gotta have a defense.”

Re-signing outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks this past season, likely would serve as the top priority. He signed a one-year contract upon his arrival to the Buccaneers in 2019.

Linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib as well as defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, Beau Allen and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are all set to become free agents. The Bucs are projected to have around $80 million in cap space.

Arians said that nothing has changed in regard to the status of Winston, who led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and became the first player in league history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns (33, in fact) and 30 interceptions.

“No, because you don’t know who’s available,” Arians said when asked if he had better clarity on the team’s quarterback position. “You’re just sitting and waiting to see, is there someone available? And is he a better option?

“That’s the problem. You get about three days to decide — the legal tampering (period). Is somebody else gonna get let go? What’s the trade values? It’s really monotonous right now because you don’t really have any answers.”

Winston has thrown for 121 touchdowns and 88 interceptions in 72 career games since being selected by the Buccaneers with the top overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.