Will the Buccaneers ever find a franchise quarterback?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting playing in 1976 and have been in a futile search for a franchise quarterback ever since.

They made Doug Williams and Vinny Testaverde the first pick in their respective drafts, and neither won a Super Bowl for them. Williams left in a contract dispute and won a Super Bowl in Washington.

They got rid of Steve Young to make room for Testaverde, and Young won a Super Bowl in San Francisco.

They drafted Trent Dilfer in the first round and got rid of him, and he won a Super Bowl in Baltimore although the defense carried him and he was dumped at the end of the year.

So the Bucs have had three quarterbacks who won Super Bowls after they’ve left.

The one they did win with was Brad Johnson, a journeyman who was carried by the defense.

The Bucs continued their long search when they made Jameis Winston the first pick in the draft in 2015.

There were character concerns about Winston because of his off-field problems at Florida State, but he did win a national title.

Despite their extensive research, the Bucs found out Winston still hasn’t overcome his character flaws and was suspended the first three games of the season for groping an Uber driver.

But the surprising thing was not that he hadn’t overcome his character issues, but the fact he hasn’t turned out to be a great quarterback on the field. He’s the latest on a long list of quarterbacks who weren’t as good in the NFL as they were in college.

Winston has been a turnover machine in the NFL, and his career in Tampa effectively ended last Sunday when he was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick. He threw 10 interceptions in four games since returning from his suspension.

Fitzpatrick will start Sunday against against Carolina, although coach Dirk Koetter didn’t rule out going back to Winston. It won’t be a surprise if he does because Fitzpatrick has been inconsistent over the years.

But don’t look for Winston to return next year. It’s highly unlikely the Bucs are going to pay Winston $20 million to return next year.

And a new coach will likely want to start fresh, and if Koetter somehow survives, he is not likely to want Winston back.

Winston tried to put the best face on the situation, saying it was a minor setback for a major comeback.

It is doubtful Winston will have a major comeback. He will probably have to start over as a backup with a new team. He is not likely to become the fourth former Buc to win a Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the Bucs will continue their search for a franchise quarterback that is now at longer than four decades and counting.

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