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Sean Payton: Buccaneers knowingly tanked in 2014 to land Jameis Winston

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say that Sean Payton is excited to have former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.

He recently compared Winston to the top quarterbacks of the 2020 draft class. In that discussion, Payton said Winston would fare extremely well compared to the rest of the top rookies this year.

Now comes another nugget from his conversation.

Buccaneers tanked in 2014 to land Jameis Winston

Speaking with 105.7 The Fan recently, Payton said the Buccaneers forced then head coach Lovie Smith to tank.

“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.”

It’s not hard to believe Payton here. Looking back at that game (Week 17 of the 2014 season), the Saints were in a 20-7 hole at halftime. The Buccaneers went on to lose, 23-20, giving up 16 fourth-quarter points to New Orleans.

That loss gave the Bucs the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. They went on to take Winston.

As we know, Winston turned into a pretty big bust for the Buccaneers. He never made it past his rookie contract. A prolific passer, Winston’s turnover problems doomed him.

But if ever there was a perfect landing spot for the former No. 1 overall pick, it’s with Payton and the Saints.