Winston’s strong quarterback play in 2021 proved he had a future in NOLA, even if he did just play in seven games. Under Sean Payton’s tutelage, Winston reined in his interceptions and performed well in the pocket, throwing for 1,140 yards and 14 touchdowns against three interceptions.
In 2022, New Orleans’ NFC South rival, Tampa Bay, is looking for a quarterback after Tom Brady announced his retirement, and some rumors have swirled around a homecoming between Winston and the Bucs.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians reportedly said he was “not totally” opposed to bringing back Winston but added, “I don’t think it’s the best thing for him.”
New Orleans Saints should not have to worry about Jameis Winston going to the Bucs
Compared to the likes of Carson Wentz, Teddy Bridgewater, and even Jimmy G, Winston offers more upside as a starting quarterback and could thrive in the right offensive scheme. Given his performance during his last season at Tampa, though, the Bucs and Winston don’t exactly fit well together.
In 2019, Winston attempted a league-high 626 passes and threw for 5,109 yards, but he also recorded 30 interceptions on the year. Not all of those picks were necessarily Winston’s fault, as the Bucs offense had several other problems at the time, yet plugging Winston back into the team suggests the same thing would happen again. Arians is no Payton — he couldn’t minimize Winston’s turnover-prone plays then, and there’s no indication he could do so now.
That dredges up the question: is New Orleans the “best thing” for Winston? While his 2021 campaign was hardly a disappointing debut, seven games is a very few amount of games to judge a quarterback’s play. With Payton gone, Dennis Allen and Pete Carmichael have the responsibility to keep Winston in check, and heading into 2022, the Saints offense feels just as shaky as when Brees left the team.
Hope glimmers here and there with Michael Thomas’ return and a reformed offensive line, but Winston’s reliability will be put to the test within a still identity-less Saints team.
At least the Bucs are having quarterback issues of their own this offseason. Misery loves company.