The ever-fickle Jameis Winston could be the X-factor of the New Orleans Saints this year and will make or break the 2022 season.
Winston has yet to finalize a new contract with the Saints and is set to enter free agency this week. Many believe he and the Saints will get something done, though, and that barring any blockbuster trades (Deshaun Watson to NOLA?), Winston will play under center in 2022.
Winston only played seven games last season but his numbers suggest his quarterback play has greatly improved since his Bucs-playing days.
NFL’s Gil Brandt listed 10 players on the market who could either experience a “boom” or become a “bust” on their next contracts. One of those players was Jameis Winston, and this is what Brandt had to say about his “bust” potential:
"Whether because he struggles to recover from the injury or because he reverts to bad habits without Payton (or both), Winston plays himself onto the bench by midseason, setting himself on the Competent Veteran Backup track for the next phase of his career."
New Orleans Saints are depending on Jameis Winston to break out in 2022
In 2021, Winston threw 14 touchdowns against three interceptions, a far cry from his Mr. 30-30 performance in 2019 in Tampa.
Brandt shows optimism in Winston’s ability to limit his turnovers based on his production this past season, but he also discusses the worst-possible scenario by which Winston plays himself into a backup role alongside Taysom Hill.
Either possibility is equally feasible, and many factors out of Winston’s control may also come into play in 2022: how the Saints improve their O-line this offseason, how well Michael Thomas plays in his return, how Dennis Allen and Pete Carmichael will lead the offense, and so on.
On the surface, Winston has the talents and skills to earn a season-long starting quarterback spot and could very well lead the Saints to a winning record as well as to playoff contention.
NOLA can hope for the best in Jameis Winston, but they should prepare for the worst.