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Josh McCown released by Buccaneers, who reportedly prefer Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It's official: Josh McCown is no longer a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team released the veteran quarterback on Wednesday evening. Here's the reaction from over at Bucs Nation:

"The Bucs save a whopping $5.25 million by releasing Josh McCown, which should help them in free agency. This elevates Mike Glennon to the position of starting quarterback, right up until the moment they select a quarterback in the draft.

This probably eliminates the Bucs finding a trade partner for Mike Glennon, as they have no other capable quarterbacks on the roster. They already need to find a new starter, and replacing the backup as well may be a bit too much to ask.

McCown's release hardly comes as a surprise. He was scheduled to make $5.25 in 2015 but none of it was guaranteed, so releasing him was an easy decision for Tampa Bay.

If there was any doubt, this move seems to clear the way for the Buccaneers drafting a quarterback at pick No. 1 overall. (Or perhaps signing Sam Bradford if he's released?) This could be bad news for Eagles fans hoping to see Philadelphia trade up for top prospect Marcus Mariota.

Or maybe not. According to ESPN's Pat Yasinskas, Tampa Bay head coach Love Smith actually prefers FSU passer Jameis Winston over Mariota.

"It's very early in the process, and much will depend on what happens at the scouting combine, pro days and individual interviews. But the early indicators are that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the favorite -- for now. I've heard that coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Oregon's Marcus Mariota. When Smith chose Dirk Koetter as the Bucs' offensive coordinator over Marc Trestman, the logic was simple. Although Smith and Trestman have similar philosophies about how to run an offense, they disagreed on the quarterbacks. Trestman preferred Mariota."

If you look at the history of quarterbacks that Smith has chosen to work with, it makes sense that Winston could be preferred over Mariota. Smith's former quarterbacks include pocket passers such as Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton, Jay Cutler, and of course McCown. Winston seems to fit the mold of those quarterbacks more than Mariota does.

It's still a long-shot that the Eagles will be able to land Mariota. There are a number of teams ahead of them that could use a quarterback. But that might not stop the Eagles from trying their best.

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