The Hidden Reason For Kellen Winslow’s Exit

May 22nd, 2012

Pretty big news day yesterday for Bucs fans, and for Joe. Kellen Winslow announced in the morning his days with the Bucs were done and, just as hottie anchor Heather Van Nest was saying goodnight to viewers as the 11 p.m. WTSP-TV newscast signed off, Winslow was traded to Seattle.

Lots of commenters on this site cited all sorts of reasons for Winslow’s sudden departure, from his seemingly indifferent attitude about offseason team workouts to his run-ins with fans during games, to his past as a “soldier” and his salary were cited.

But here’s another element that may have played a major factor. First, some background.

Earlier this offseason, former Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer, now a fill-in host on SiriusXM NFL Radio, spoke about the development of quarterback Eli Manning. One of Manning and Toomer’s offensive teammates was tight end Jeremy Shockey. The former Canes star and college teammate of Winslow took advantage of Manning during the Giants quarterback’s first few years in the league, so Toomer detailed, bullying him after virtually every play in the huddle.

Toomer spoke how Shockey constantly demanded Manning get him the ball. Shockey, naturally, was open on each play, so he told Manning, game after game, week after week.

In short, Shockey was in Manning’s head, and it greatly affected his play. It wasn’t until late in the 2007 season, Toomer said, that Manning began to turn the corner, becoming one of the NFL’s better signal-callers. No small reason, said Toomer, was Shockey was on the sidelines with a broken leg.

The Giants parted ways with Shockey after Manning led the Giants to an improbably postseason run, capped by an upset win over the then-undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.

With Shockey no longer intimidating Manning, Toomer said, Manning become one of the game’s elite quarterbacks. Toomer had stated that had Shockey stayed with the Giants, Toomer was certain Manning would have eventually melted down mentally.

Who was the Giants wide receiver coach during this period? Mike Sullivan, the Bucs current offensive coordinator.

Fast forward to 2011, specifically a mind-numbing awful Bucs season. How many times, in how many games, did we see Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman force passes to Winslow? Did a game go by that Freeman didn’t try to force a pass to Winslow when he was blanketed by an opposing defender, if not two, sometimes even three?

Then there was the ugly spat on the sidelines, caught by FOX TV cameras during the home game against the Saints, of Freeman and Winslow jawing at one another.

While no one at One Buc Palace has spoken about this in public, Joe’s of the belief that, like Shockey did with Manning, Winslow was in Freeman’s head last season, thus, was stunting Freeman’s development.

Hence, the departure of Winslow. Don’t dismiss the very real possibility that Sullivan didn’t want to deal with a repeat of what he had to tolerate in New York, with a star tight end bullying a promising young quarterback.

As the Bucs are wont to say, “It’s all about No. 5.”

45 Responses to “The Hidden Reason For Kellen Winslow’s Exit”

  1. RIs_Buc Says:

    Toomer can only speculate.

  2. bucfanjeff Says:

    One of your better, more insightful, articles. So very, very true.

  3. espo Says:

    This seemed pretty apparent last year. With the offense already struggling, Freeman seemed to give in to Winslow. I just don’t like my 6’6 QB being considered a bully victim. Eli looks like he was picked on growing up.. a lot. Not Freeman though.

  4. NJBucsFan Says:

    Combine Joe’s article with this –

    I’m happy with the trade. I’d rather miss out on one or two years of mediocre numbers from Winslow than have him poison the offense and stunt the team growth. While I think Clark is just as done he won’t be a distraction. He can help Freeman by sharing some of Mannings tricks. I think Stocker will be solid. We shouldn’t expect Gronk type of numbers from him but he will run block and be able to catch passes when they are thrown to him. He could develop into a Witten type TE.

  5. JonBuc Says:

    This article makes a lot of sense….it also puts a nice bow around the situation. I was a bit dubious at first but now see the rationale.

  6. Fatmosh Says:

    That seems to be the obvious reason. I mean, what other reason is there?

    The ONLY reason to get rid of a TE with his numbers is because he’s not good for the QB and not good for the team.

    So, good riddance. I think we’ll be better off.

  7. Matt Says:

    the Giants havent used tight ends extensively the past few years anyway, if sullivan bases his offensive style on the Giants then Winslow is deemed expendable as we wont use TE’s often this year, when we do throw the ball a pass catching RB and a slot WR will replace the use of the TE.

  8. L.J. Says:

    It was so obvious that Freeman was forcing the ball to Winslow that defenses were keying on Winslow. How many picks did Freeman have trying to pass to the well covered Winslow? I am glad Winslow is gone we need a fresh start and we have the coaches now to coach up the young tight ends and with Dallas Clark we have a vet to help them learn as well. After meeting Coach Schiano, I was very impressed and renewed my season tickets for this season. I am not expecting the Bucs to go to the playoffs or win the NFC South, but I am expecting to see improvement and one way they could do that was to get rid of Winslow which WILL help Freeman. Toomer was right about that!!!

  9. Matt Says:

    When T Owens was in Dallas he used to complain that he didnt get the ball enough and Witten got it too much. I know its TO but this is good news for Freeman and his development.

  10. Eric Says:

    Oh a very nice bow alright.

    Getting rid of the leading receiver for last three years helps the QB.

    I get it totally.

  11. Matt Says:

    This will hopefully improve Freeman’s decision making and stop him from locking on to one target as he has options to spread the ball now we have a deep threat. Hopefully fewer INTs!

  12. NJBucsFan Says:

    Eric even if Winslow was on the team this year he would not lead the team in receptions. That’s going to V Jax.

    Your negative commits and venom for Dominick is clouding your judgment. Don’t get so upset about losing Winslow. He’s just about done and it’s time to move on.

  13. cait_tampa Says:

    “”” As the Bucs are wont to say, “It’s all about No. 5.” “””

    Wait- what are YOU trying to say?

    Otherwise, informative article…Tied together some pieces i hadn’t realized myself

    I had been thinking about the saints sideline spat this whole time, no one talks to my quarterback that way.

  14. Kirk Says:

    looks like Eric has a man crush on Winslow.

    Hey Eric, send him some candy and flowers along with a Starbucks gift card.

  15. Josh Says:

    Was just saying this to my wife last night. Freeman was of the mind that Winslow was his best weapon, and we all did see that spat last year. Kellen used to be one of my faves, but he was for sure one that had to go to help Freeman actually use his progressions as he should. Last year Freeman had to fight to find someone open or lack there of. Hopefully with the new scheme and weapons he’ll have time to select one of a couple open targets. A scary running game never hurts either.

  16. Big Rob Says:

    Thanks for this Joe! This article and the many like are why my this is my go-to Bucs site! Put down as one of those happy to see WinSLOW leave!

  17. Rob in Orlando Says:

    Eric is just reiterating his gloom and doom negative attitude about everything the Bucs do. I generally feel the opposite of everything he posts on this site and grew tired of his constant negativity a year ago. Anyway, Coach Schiano has a reason for everything he is doing. He is trying to build a real “team” with a team first attitude. If you want to march to the beat of your own drum or not buy into the Schiano system, you are gone. I trust this is exactly what the Bucs need. I don’t expect a miracle season this year, but doubt, as a decades long Buc fan, that I will be cussing at the lack of effort or execution of the Bucs in 2012 and beyond. Go Bucs!

  18. thomas 2.2 Says:


    the theory you posit above is reasonable – however there is one factor you fail to include – Winslow stinks!

    If Winslow was a pain but dominant – flaws get overlooked. When you are a pain but below average – you get cut or traded for a 7th round draft pick.

  19. thomas 2.2 Says:


    we are coming off 4-12, ten straight losses and 17-31, last, next to last, last in the division – sure Eric is irritated – you should be too.

    Where Eric and I disagree is on Schiano – I fully believe his is forming a winner. It will probably take 1/2 a season to work out all of the unprofessional characteristics molded into these players by rah.

    But by the end of the season you should see a different team. We need to axe a few more like Talib though.

  20. REDDMAN Says:

    Nice info, makes sense. Also K2 didn’t seem the type to tutor the young guys at the position.

  21. ctord Says:

    Many very successful coaches have had to make some unpopular public decisions for the good of the TEAM. Wins are important. Putting a sound product on the field is important. We will all get a chance to look back and monday morning quarterback this thing. Got to trust the process for now. I am looking forward to it.

  22. Jacko101 Says:

    That makes total sense and I agree 100% they are and were very good friends

  23. Rob in Orlando Says:

    The Talib saga is far from over. After his trial, and depending on the result, I feel Talib will be cut or traded. I do not believe he will play another down for the Bucs. He has skills, but he needs to be counted on every week to be on the field, history shows that won’t happen. Hopefully, he will be exonerated and the Bucs will get something for him in a trade. He has value. I am, in fact, one of the harshest critics of the Glazers and their former cheapness. I refered to them as the cheapsters for years. For whatever reason, they have opened up their checkbook and gone after quality free agents. Now this blend of real talent and promising young players needs to gel. I like what I see and read about Schiano and am no longer embarrassed by the direction the Bucs are undoubtedly headed. Winning days are not far off and being competitive and fundamentally sound are now a reality. Go Bucs!

  24. Fatmosh Says:

    FYI, K2 is still a pretty good TE.

    He’s just not worth all his baggage.

  25. FloridaGirl Says:

    Combine the knees, issues with Freeman, costly penalties, and the inability to practice on a regular basis Winslow was bound to be traded. Clark may be older but he had his best season prior to getting hurt, has always been a good team guy, can help mold the younger TEs, and doesn’t cost his team touchdowns in the clutch. I like the pick. Good assessment Joe.

  26. Marques Says:

    Youre welcome Joe.

  27. Tiny Tim Says:

    Some of us are funny. So what holds more credibility? Theories or words coming from the sources mouth? I guess we always have to know what the exact reasoning for why something happens. No disrespect to joe, but here is Freemans’s response to the supposed spat on the sidelines last year:

    “To be completely honest,’’ Freeman said, “out of all my guys (on the team) I probably have the best relationship with K2 (Winslow). We spend a lot of time working out in the offseason – hanging out.

    “I have a great relationship with K2. In no way shape or form has he ever pressured me to get him the ball. You know, it’s a deal where we’re both extremely competitive.

    Now, Toomer was in the locker room in NY and had tremendous insight as to the relationship with Shockey and Manning. Just because something happen in NY does not mean the same transpired here. Never heard of Manning and Shockey “hanging out together.” The bucs made a business decision where they felt they could dump salary and pick up a veteran that could also help groom these young guys/TE. All this talk of possible mental meltdown of Freeman is purely speculative and in no way should mean this is clever insight. Business decisions happen everyday and it has no underlyning reason but business.

  28. Jrock(mobile) Says:

    This is a helluva article, very informative on an angle I wouldn’t have seen myself. It makes sense though, Freeman forced A LOT of balls to Winslow. Hopefully his trade will help lead to better decision making.

    I still don’t think Clark is an upgrade at all, but I also don’t know what the new offense will look like so…

  29. OAR Says:

    …..or just a simple remix tape!

  30. Bobby Says:

    Article is spot on. K2 is gone. Let’s move on…..

  31. SkookumSmitty Says:

    Tiny Tim…Perhaps the PRESSURING part is wrong, but there can be little doubt that Free was forcing throws to Winslow all season long. Perhaps the problem is that they WERE close, and as the wheels fell off the season, they grumped with each other, as friends often do.

    It may even be a case where Schiano/Sullivan saw and recognized that problem, and acted to curb it. Either way, team chemistry is critical to Freeman’s development, and it was time to move on.

  32. Nick2 Says:

    After watching the Saints game where Josh Freeman throws a touchdown and immediately Winslow is screaming at him I was in total disbelief. I mean after a touchdown your whining for the ball?????? What player in their right mind is upset at their quarterback after he throws for a touchdown?? Well one as self centered as Kellen Winslow thats who!! Good riddance the guy was a cancer plane and simple. Good luck Kellen you had a good QB but you bullied him and blew it. Take your act somewhere else soldier!!!!!!

  33. Ederle Says:

    This article over exaggerates to prove a point that may be valid. But Amani Toomer is prone to nonsense and exaggeration i.e his comments towards Kurt Warner.

    Also, anyone who thinks Eli Manning was bullied by Shockey does not know Eli Manning. The guy is one of the most mentally tough men in the NFL today. As his GM said after winning SB 46, “Don’t let the baby-face fool you. This guy [Eli] is a ferocious competitor.”

    The only reason Shockey got replaced is because he got injured and then cried like a baby about getting replaced. It had nothing to do with Sullivan.

    Freeman needs to be as mentally tough and sharp as Eli Manning. I hope this isn’t the reason Kellen was let go.

  34. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    I to believe dumping your best TE with nothing behind him is a bad idea but at the same time, how could an older guy who hardly ever practices with the team help?.. I’ll let time and Schiano sort this one out. But does the trade free up his salary this year on the cap?

  35. grasshopp427er Says:

    well put joe. i could not agree more. this is a very astute observation.

  36. Tiny Tim Says:

    Some of you guys are funny. Now Winslow was a cancer and good riddance or Winslow sucked, or Winslow didn’t do anything good or he did not bring anything to this team yada yada yada. Some of you are contradicting yourselves. Why do you think Freeman forced the ball to Winslow so often? I thought it was because we didn’t have receivers that could get open. Isn’t that what Joe and many of you said all last year and offseason? Well call me stupid, but I would throw the ball to the most proven and reliable receiver more often than not if the others were “unable to get seperation” as many of you stated so much in the past. That was not winslow’s fault. Make up your mind.

    Or you can just believe any theory thrown out there as plausible like Talib has not been cut because he has some pictures of Dominick in a compromising position because that scenario has played out all the time in many walks of life. Or maybe just maybe from a business standpoint, keeping Talib is the better decision right now. Just saying…………

  37. BucFan20 Says:

    Money and attitude. no more no less IMO. Po Little baby Freeman everyone wants to make excuses for ( one after another) knows if he should pass or not. Who gets blamed next? Williams, Benn, Parker,Brisco?
    The other teams got tape on him and Williams and shut them down. They were no longer a surprise. Freeman was exposed for what he is. An average QB.

  38. thibs5599 Says:

    Nick2 said it right

    When someone complains they didn’t score but somebody else did, the alarm should go off right there that someone is not a team player. If that is a rookie then that’s one thing, but coming from a guy who has been in the league for 7 or so season, just nonsense.

  39. Nate Says:

    Im glad we got rid of winslow he was way to much about partying!

  40. Buckleberry Finn Says:

    Rockstar Dom will use that pick to move up in the fifth or into the bottom of the fourth next year. Better something than nothing at all.

    Bucs worked out Clark, so they saw something left in him. May end up being a key third down option for Free.

  41. Brian G. Says:

    Hmmmm. I wonder why you would blame Winslow for his bad attitude? I guess the fact that he is black has nothing to do with it, I’m sure. The black man is always angry. This is the same way Republicans are portraying Obama, that he is an angry African who isn’t a real American that hates whitey. I am sick of how African-Americans are treated in this country. Winslow will just have to soldier on despite the obstacles.

  42. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    @Brian G – What are you talking about??? Winslow and many other receivers and tight ends are hard on young quarterbacks and try to intimidate them. It happens on every level of football. It has nothing to do with race, it’s part of football and receivers’ nature to be selfish.

    Winslow, as Joe’s already written, was great for Freeman over his first two seasons, but that seemingly turned sour last year. The story here was about how Amani Toomer talked about a possibly parallel situation with Eli Manning and Jeremy Shockey.

    Your writing about race is ridiculous here. If you search the archives, you’ll find that Joe doesn’t blame Winslow for anything. He served the Bucs well in his three seasons and aided in the development of Freeman greatly in 2009 and 2010.

  43. JBreazy Says:

    It seems to me that the bottom line here is that K2 simply does not fit the mold of a “Schiano guy” I don’t believe that Winslow’s attitude nor his inability to practice consistently is what Schiano has in mind for his team

  44. #1bucsfan Says:

    Thomas 2.2 – what river do you live on? Winslow was trade for a lower round pick because he had a big contract, not because he “stinks”. People like you should refrain from posting your opinion when it is based on emotions, not facts. Winslow is a top 10 TE and clearly had suiters for his services but his hefty contract prohibited a higher round draft pick. Get with it man, stop being a douche…

  45. Andrew Says:

    I liked Winslow. Put up good numbers, had above average hands, and yards after the catch. He does have an attitude and never practices. It came down to above average production vs. below average character. I hope Schiano knows what he’s doing going for character and team leaders over talent. We’ll see.. I really like all the other moves he and Mark have made so even though I didn’t see this coming I have already established faith in them. Peace K2 the pirate ship sails on. GO BUCS!