Bucs veterans report for training camp one week from today, and we're continuing to look at what big records could fall for Tampa Bay in 2018.
It seems impossible, even given the lack of sustained quarterback success throughout the Bucs' 41-year history, but Jameis Winston, even with his three-game suspension, could set franchise career records for passing yards and touchdown passes this season, at age 24.
Vinny Testaverde holds the team passing yardage record, with 14,820 yards, while Josh Freeman has the touchdown pass record with … 80. Both are the lowest career records for any NFL franchise, even though four franchises have joined the league since 1995. (More on that in a minute).
So Winston needs just 12 touchdown passes to go from his current 69 (fifth all-time among Bucs QBs) through a logjam to Freeman's 80. He'll pass Trent Dilfer (70), Doug Williams (73) and Testaverde (77) but should catch Freeman by November if he continues his statistical norms.
Yards? Winston is also fifth, but should be able to pass Williams, Dilfer and Freeman. He needs 3,185 yards to catch Testaverde — a 4,000-yard season, prorated to 13 games, would be 3,250 yards, so it could be a close call. Winston missed three games with injury last year and still threw for 3,504.
This isn't just high-volume passing for Winston — he'll likely set the career completions record this season, but likely won't catch Testaverde's passing attempts mark until sometime next season. And as much as Winston is criticized for interceptions (44 in three seasons), he'll likely still be fifth on the Bucs' career interceptions list at the end of this season, barely halfway to Testaverde's record of 112.
So just how bad are the all-time Bucs passing records? Testaverde has 14,820 yards, and the only other NFL team without at least one 23,000-yard passer is the Raiders, whose record is 19,078 from Ken Stabler. Nine different teams have had a quarterback throw for 50,000-plus yards for them, all more than triple the Bucs' record total.
San Francisco has five quarterbacks in its history who would be ahead of Testaverde. Steve Young has 29,907 yards with the 49ers, more than double Testaverde's total, and still ranks third in 49ers yards behind Joe Montana and John Brodie.
The touchdowns is even worse — Freeman has 80, a total that three quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers) have reached in a single two-year span. The next-lowest team record is the Texans, where Matt Schaub (!) has 124, and the Texans joined the league in 2002, 26 years after the Bucs. Eight NFL teams have at least one QB with 320-plus TDs, which is quadruple the Bucs' total.
Winston would be the youngest quarterback to set a franchise yardage record in a non-expansion setting. Cam Newton was 27 when he broke Jake Delhomme's Panthers record; Matt Ryan was 28 when he broke Steve Bartkowski's Falcons record.
The closest we can find is Matthew Stafford, who was only 25 and in his fifth NFL season when he broke Bobby Layne's 55-year-old Lions record in 2013.
Who can roll their eyes at Winston's Bucs record the most? Dan Fouts has 43,040 yards and 254 touchdowns, but ranks second to Philip Rivers in Chargers history in both. Johnny Unitas has 39,768 yards and 287 touchdowns, but trails Peyton Manning in both. And Rodgers has 38,502 yards and 313 touchdowns, but could throw for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in each of the next five seasons and still not catch Brett Favre.