Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston privately predicted to team officials that fellow quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick would have the success he has had to start this season, sources told ESPN.
Sources said that during a meeting the day before his three-game suspension began, Winston told Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht that Fitzpatrick was going to "light it up."
During one last meeting before the start of Winston's suspension, Licht noted that there were no assurances the quarterback would keep his job when he returned.
Winston thanked Licht for "keeping it real" and headed out of the office. But once he did, he ducked his head back in and told Licht: "You know Fitz is going to light it up, don't you?"
And Fitzpatrick has. In upset wins over the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 819 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception.
Winston's three-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, stemming from him allegedly inappropriately touching an Uber driver in 2016, ends Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
Winston is expected to return to the Buccaneers' training facility almost immediately that morning. He has stayed in touch with his teammates, sending them congratulatory texts after wins. The NFL provided Winston clearance to do that before the texts were sent.