What the Saints should do during the 2021 NFL offseason
Step Five: Bring Back Quarterback Jameis Winston
Who should succeed Brees? That’s what the Saints need to figure out.
Whoever does so will have a massive burden to accomplish, but they also will have the services of head coach Sean Payton and one of the game’s elite receivers in Michael Thomas. That’s quite the foundation to start with.
I’d love to see New Orleans use their assets to make a run at Ohio State’s Justin Fields in the draft.
His accuracy, athletic abilities, arm strength, and decision-making would put him in a position to be the #1 pick in practically any other draft, and if there’s one coach that could maximize his skill set, it’s Payton.
Trey Lance and Mac Jones are also intriguing draft prospects as well at the quarterback position.
Assuming they can’t really make a run at any of those young quarterbacks, however (likely given that they have the 28th overall pick), their best option clearly is Jameis Winston.
The former No. 1 overall pick has ranked as an above-average quarterback in Expected Points Added (EPA) per pass attempt, and he generated the most amount of air yards of any quarterback in 2019.
That makes him someone capable of elevating an offense, especially since he has proven capable of leading a dropback-heavy offense. When you factor in that he has played in a lot of unfavorable offensive systems, pairing him with Payton would be incredibly appealing.
For more on Winston, click here.
What would a contract with Winston would like? By all accounts, he should be able to earn $10 million on the open market, but his options are limited.
He failed to land a deal greater than $2 million last offseason, after all, as the NFL is generally more concerned of high-risk quarterbacks than they should be- turnover luck is quite volatile and should be treated as such.
Honestly, how many teams would be interested in him? The only teams in need of a quarterback and not guaranteed to be able to draft one would be the Patriots, Bears, and Broncos, but:
- The Broncos likely wouldn’t commit to Winston as their starter given their belief in Drew Lock
- The Bears’ regime probably doesn’t their last chance to be with Winston, given that they are rumored to be on the hot seat
- The Patriots appear to be more interested in draft a quarterback or bringing back Jimmy Garoppolo or Cam Newton
- Washington has been linked to a lot of quarterbacks but not Winston
Most importantly, though, none can offer Winston what the Saints can: Sean Payton and Michael Thomas. We’ve seen the difference between Tom Brady in New England and Tampa Bay, Washington’s offensive depth is limited, and the Bears likely will have to trade star receiver Allen Robinson, currently on the franchise tag.
Since Denver wouldn’t guarantee Winston a starting job most likely, how could New Orleans not be the prime destination?
Sure, that might mean taking less money, but for Winston, you’re potentially maximizing your future earnings, as it’d be the best way to boost your stock with a productive season. Even if that is still pricey for New Orleans, the contract can always be a two-year contract structured heavily towards 2022.
Of all the available non-draft quarterbacks, Winston is the only one I’d be interested in given his track record and style of play, and with how the NFL has undervalued him, he’s too good of a value to pass up on.
It’s likely that the 26-year-old’s best days would be ahead of him should the two parties come to an agreement.