Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
The overwhelming consensus around the NFL is clear and the expected announcement is almost a fait accompli. When commissioner Roger Goodell first steps to the podium on April 30, he is almost certain to say these words: "With the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select . . . Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State."
That still is the most likely scenario, and the team has dropped strong hints throughout the pre-draft process that quarterback is their top priority and Winston is their top choice. But the Bucs might not be quite as committed to taking Winston -- or even Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the other presumptive early first-round pick -- as they've been letting on. According to two people familiar with the team's situation, the Bucs will listen seriously to trade offers for the No. 1 pick.
That doesn't mean they will make a deal, and it doesn't mean that Winston won't wind up being the team's franchise quarterback. But the sources said the Bucs have let it be known in recent weeks that they are at least willing to listen to trade offers.
The Bucs are coming off a 2-14 season and have multiple roster needs, including a quarterback. But a trade down could benefit them with the acquisition of additional picks. They then could consider a second-tier passer or even see if incumbent Mike Glennon would benefit from another year of experience.
When asked if they have floated the idea of a potential trade in recent weeks, the Bucs declined to comment through a team spokesman. But one NFL source familiar with the team's thinking said they will consider a trade. "You don't shut the door on it until you have to," the source said of the Bucs' thinking, adding that the team appears willing to "listen to offers."
And in a league where the demand for quality quarterbacks far outstrips the supply, especially when there are only two highly regarded passers in this year's draft, there are sure to be some teams who will at least make inquiries in the days leading up to the draft. If they haven't already done so.
Winston to the Bucs? Or if not Winston, then Mariota? Most likely.
"I'd be shocked it they don't pick a quarterback," one general manager said. "That's been their whole plan all along in the offseason."
Several teams have been linked to potential interest in quarterbacks, including the Jets, Browns, Chargers, Eagles, Bears, Rams and Washington.
The Jets have the sixth overall pick and have closely studied Winston and Mariota. First-year general manager Mike Maccagnan, who has only six picks, is not likely to pay a king's ransom to move up for Winston or Mariota. If either quarterback falls to No. 6, there's a much better possibility that Maccagnan will take him. If neither is available, look for Maccagnan to address his quarterback need later in the draft, possibly with UCLA's Brett Hundley, Colorado State's Garrett Grayson, Baylor's Bryce Petty or Oregon State's Sean Mannion.
The Eagles continue to be mentioned as a potential suitor for Mariota, who was recruited to Oregon by coach Chip Kelly. But a person familiar with the team's plans said Kelly will not mortgage the future by trading up from No. 20 overall and that the coach is prepared to go with Sam Bradford, acquired from the Rams in an offseason trade, and Mark Sanchez, who signed a two-year deal last month.
When asked if he expects Kelly to trade up for Mariota, the person said, "No way.''
The Chargers, at No. 17, and the Browns, at No. 12, appear to be most interested in moving up. San Diego officials met with Mariota during the past week, and the Chargers could have a willing trade partner in the Titans, who own the second pick. Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt was Philip Rivers' offensive coordinator in San Diego, and the Titans can get better in a hurry with Rivers, who was named the comeback player of the year last season.
The Browns are in the market for a quarterback after signing stopgap veteran Josh McCown, 35, and having grown impatient with Johnny Manziel, who spent more than two months undergoing inpatient rehabilitation for an addiction problem. The Browns decided to let 2014 starter Brian Hoyer go as a free agent.
The Bears, who are especially wary of mercurial veteran Jay Cutler now that a new general manager (Ryan Pace) and new coach (John Fox) are in place, have met with Winston and Mariota. And while Fox offered some support for Cutler last month during interviews at the NFL owners' meetings in Phoenix, he also said that Cutler would have to compete for the starting job.
The Rams, who have the 10th pick, traded for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, but he's only under contract through 2015. The team has closely scouted both Mariota and Winston.
Washington, which has the fifth overall pick, could be in play for a quarterback, especially with coach Jay Gruden still unwilling to make an unwavering commitment to Robert Griffin III.
The team's new general manager, Scot McCloughan, has offered no public hints about which direction he might take in the draft.
But if he has a conviction about either Mariota or Winston and thinks he needs to go to the top of the draft to make a deal, the Bucs may be willing to listen.