Limited to just 14 snaps in his return to action last Thursday, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was eased carefully into the mix. This was the equivalent of dipping his toe into the water instead of making it a cannonball-type plunge.
Gronkowski, for his part, wants the cannonball as soon as possible.
He wasn’t released from jail until after the team’s morning walk-through ended. The Bucs decided to waive him that afternoon.
“I know I was hurt, just because we spent so much time in the offseason just working,” said Winston, who used the offseason, his first NFL offseason, to build better rapport with his receiving targets, including Seferian-Jenkins.
He saw the fruits of that labor pay off in the Bucs’ Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Winston threw a gorgeous 30-yard touchdown pass in the second half to him. Seferian-Jenkins dove backwards behind two defenders to make the catch, which gave the Bucs a 24-13 lead.
The New York Jets, who have been in desperate need of some tight end help, claimed Seferian-Jenkins off of waivers on Monday. While Winston is sad to see him go, he’s optimistic he can thrive with his new team.
“I know Austin is going to grow up and Austin is going to do an amazing job in New York,” Winston said. “I mean, he is an outstanding player. I’m excited for his future. Sometimes you fall down, you bounce back and that’s just life.”
Head coach Dirk Koetter said it was ultimately general manager Jason Licht’s call, and ownership had a say in it as well. He also emphasized that every team’s situation and how it handles such incidents will vary and that the public only knows so much.
“There’s circumstances that — when we’re looking at other teams making a decision — we don’t know all the details of it,” Koetter said. “Just like I have no idea of any of the details about when guys prior to what happened last week left. I think every case is different, every case has got to be handled separately and you’ve got to remember, only a certain few people know all the facts.”