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Bucs GM on Jameis Winston: ‘Best leader I think I’ve ever been around’

Jameis Winston is set to embark upon his third NFL season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback has room to grow, as is the case with almost all young signal-callers. One thing Winston has developed, however, is remarkable leadership qualities, so says Bucs general manager Jason Licht.

During Tuesday’s broadcast of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” Licht gushed over how Winston has taken on the role of team leader.

Tampa Bay Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois was paying Bucs camp a visit when Winston came up. BriseBois asked Licht about Winston and whether the team envisioned himĀ  having an aptitude for leadership when drafting the quarterback with the number-one overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

“Yes,” Licht told BriseBois. “He’s the best leader I think I’ve ever been around — in anything.”

Winston appears to be on an upward trajectory entering his third season. While there are some holes in his game — again, as to be expected with a young quarterback — seizing the mantle as one of the unquestioned leaders on the team can pay considerable dividends, not only in respect from teammates but also arguably in performance and confidence.

And charismatic leadership qualities can help in other ways as well, such as helping the team surround Winston with free agent offensive talent.

“If you’ve got a guy like Jameis, he’s the reason we got [receiver] DeSean Jackson, because DeSean turned down more money to come here because he wanted to play with him,” Licht said.

Winston enjoyed an up-and-down sophomore campaign last season. He completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 4,090 yards to go with 29 touchdowns to 18 interceptions, good for a 86.1 quarterback rating while leading the Bucs to a 9-7 record.

Winston obviously has to improve upon those numbers for the Buccaneers to take the next step. Given Licht’s comments, it sounds like the Bucs have faith Winston has what it takes to do so while being a respected team leader along the way.