With Bridgewater gone, the Saints suddenly were in the market for a backup quarterback. So, why not take a similar route; bringing in a first-round reclamation project?
Just one day after the NFL draft, the team signed Jameis Winston to a one-year contract worth just around $1 million in base salary.
This came as a surprise, considering that he was the league’s leader in passing yards in 2019, but it’s clear that he valued the opportunity of learning under Brees rather than seeking more monetary value.
As the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, expectations were enormous for Winston coming out of Florida State. Thus, his five-year stretch with the Bucs will likely be seen as a disappointment; he threw 121 interceptions and led the league with 30 interceptions in 2019.
However, Winston was far from a bust. His career 7.7 yards/attempt would rank in the top ten in most seasons, while his 8.2 yards/attempt tied for 4th in 2019. Meanwhile, the offenses he was in forced him to drop back often, did not feature great offensive lines, did not utilize enough play-actions passes, and he was often playing from behind in games.
That last point is important; some of Winston’s mistakes surely came from game script, as a lot was put on his plate.
When Brees went down with injury, many were excited what Winston could do in a much more favorable offensive system in New Orleans. Instead, he remained on the bench in favor of Taysom Hill.
Strangely, Sean Payton has mentioned multiple times that Winston could come back to compete for the starting job next season, but why not just play him now. Furthermore, will Winston be willing to return considering Payton favored Hill over him?
Given the team’s lack of financial flexibility, Winston is the perfect type of “upside play”, given his volatility, big-play ability, and overall untapped talent. However, the optics of it are strange considering what happened this season, though there is a chance Winston could be back; there aren’t an abundance of quarterback openings.