It’s a new dawn and a new day for New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston, who starts his third life in NOLA in 2022.
Winston saw his career flash before his eyes back in Tampa Bay when he infamously recorded 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions as a starter in 2019. The 2015 first-round pick came to New Orleans full of hope and promise, but he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 8 of 2021.
Will the Saints finally get to see a new and improved (and healthy) version of Winston in 2022?
Winston posted a video to his Instagram last week that showed him throwing a football without a brace on his surgically repaired left knee, revealing the first footage of him playing on a field with no restrictions.
Earlier this summer during the Saints’ organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, Winston was spotted wearing the brace as he practiced his throws, which was to be expected given his recovery timeline.
Eight months after his injury, Winston is finally brace-less and ready to get his career back on track.
NOLA Saints should get excited over Jameis Winston’s return in 2022
As with any player returning from serious injury, Winston will face his fair share of obstacles in his second season in New Orleans.
Winston already has the starting job locked down, a major difference from last offseason when he was pitted against Taysom Hill for the QB1 position, but that just means it’s now his job to lose. In 2021, Winston put together a solid 5-2 record with 14 touchdowns against three interceptions in seven starts for the team.
This offseason, the Saints re-instilled their faith in him by signing him to a two-year deal, but Winston’s consistency as a starter has yet to be proven. Though Winston got his bag, 2022 acts as a true make-or-break season for him — if he fails, New Orleans will no doubt be on the lookout for his replacement either in the 2023 NFL Draft, free agency, or by means of a trade, and Winston can consider his career all but finished.
On the other hand, if Winston replicates his early 2021 success and manages to lead the Saints into the playoffs this season, perhaps even winning Comeback Player of the Year, he could be hailed as the next elite QB after Drew Brees and usher in a new era of relevance for the Saints franchise.
For now, slow and steady wins the race. NOLA doesn’t want to rush Winston back onto the field, but if he continues to progress well in rehab, he’ll likely be a full go for training camp.
And that’s when the new version of Jameis Winston will come alive.