Who would have thought Jameis Winston would be the top free agent quarterback of 2022? The New Orleans Saints may decide to keep him under center next season, but other teams may have their eyes on the quarterback, too.
This offseason should be interesting.
With higher-profile QBs like Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo not confirmed as a clear cut free agent options, Winston leads the group as one of the most talented — and potentially most coveted — quarterbacks out there.
John Healy of Audacy listed Winston as the No. 1 free agent signal-caller heading into 2022. Winston beat out Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Mariota, and Teddy Bridgewater which…honestly isn’t saying much.
Bridgewater poses the only true competition as a consistent starter on the Denver Broncos, but he’s been passed from team to team throughout his seven-year career. No one looks at Bridgewater and thinks, “I want him as my franchise quarterback.”
No one think that about Winston, either, but at least Winston shows a bit more upside.
New Orleans Saints may have to fend off competition for Jameis Winston
Winston’s 2021 season was cut painfully short by his season-ending ACL injury, but prior to his injury he went 5-2 as a starter for the Saints.
Winston threw for 1,170 yards and recorded 17 touchdowns against three interceptions, proving that under the right coaching he can play a much cleaner game.
He’s been held close on a leash by Sean Payton in his seven starts but still showcased his arm strength and tactical awareness, not to mention bubbling chemistry with wideout Marquez Callaway.
Heading into 2022, the Saints desperately need to clear cap space. At an estimated $61 million dollars over the cap, there will be tough decisions to make regarding Marcus Williams, Terron Armstead, and other key players set to enter free agency next season.
Winston would be one of the cheaper players the Saints can retain, costing a measly one million to re-sign, but that’s only if other teams don’t try to poach him.
As reporter Jeff Nowak notes, quarterback-needy clubs like Washington and Pittsburgh may engage in an unexpected bidding war for Winston, driving his market value way up.
For the Saints, the main appeal of re-signing Winston is his price point. If Winston receives other offers and wants to negotiate a significantly higher salary, the team may not be willing to shell out the cap space to keep him on the roster.
And…we’re back at square one, with Taysom Hill hobbling on the field to take snaps under center.
NOLA will want to consider all its options for quarterback next season, but if the Saints aren’t careful, Jameis Winston could slip out from right under their noses.