Saints fans read the news of Jameis Winston’s signing to become Drew Brees’ backup in New Orleans. The reactions of “Why?”, “WTH”, and I “don’t understand”, “we already have a Taysom (Hill)” filled social media feeds in the Who Dat Nation.
The New Orleans Saints are finalizing a 1-year contract with former Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston. This deal is a smart move for both the Saints and Winston. I have words of reassurance for Saints fans. Winston will not a liability to the organization. View the Jameis Winston signing as an insurance policy for the team. The length of the deal insures QB Taysom Hill will be Drew Brees' heir in New Orleans. Recent Saints history gives us an idea how Winston will be used at quarterback.
The 2018 trade New Orleans made with the Jets for Teddy Bridgewater in 2018 had questions from Saints fans. Bridgewater was making his return to football after a horrific knee injury in a 2016 Vikings practice drill. He was returning from surgeries which helped to save his leg and eventually his NFL career. At the time, NFL analysts viewed the trade as an insurance policy for the Saints. The trade proved to be a wise decision by New Orleans. Bridgewater was undefeated in substitute for an injured Drew Brees. Those five games proved to the Saints faithful the trade was definitely worth the 3rd-round draft pick New Orleans gave up to gain Bridgewater.
Jameis Winston is an insurance policy and not the heir-apparent for Drew Brees. Since QB Taysom Hill re-signed with New Orleans for a 2-year, $21M contract on Sunday, Winston will provide options for Sean Payton’s offense. Expect Winston to be used like Bridgewater. For instance, Hill’s dynamic play opens the playbook for the Saints. In a Sean Payton offense, Hill could become the decoy, quarterback, running back, tight-end, or receiver. The same was not for Bridgewater and Winston. If they were inserted into a game, it will either be as a decoy and quarterback. Never as a running back or receiver. Winston is 6-4, 231 lbs, athletic, and has the potential to carry the football. In Jameis Winston’s five professional seasons, he rushed 248 times for 1,044 yards, 10 TDs, 77 1st downs, for an average of 4.2 yards/carry. Compared to Hill’s three seasons where he rushed 64 times for 353 yards, 3 TDs, 26 1st downs, and a 5.5 yards/carry average.
Jameis Winston will have company in the Saints quarterback room with Brees, Hill, and 7th round draft choice Stevens. Fans should not expect Winston to have character issues in this Saints locker-room. Veteran leadership is the key. DE Cam Jordan, LB Demario Davis, S Malcolm Jenkins, and QB Drew Brees can handle internal situations. To put it another way, don’t expect any crab leg stories or eating Ws to happen under their watch. Winston got married during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. On March 27th, Winston and Breion Allen wed in a private affair at his Odessa, Florida home.
What do you get from Winston?
New Orleans will have a five-year starter behind Brees and Hill battling for a roster spot. Amid the inconsistencies of the Tampa Bay coaching staff and his performances Winston was a prolific passer. The problem for him, was the fact he also was a turnover machine. He became the first NFL QB to throw for 30 TDs and 30 INTs in a season. The Bucs HC Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich could not get him to stop the interceptions and fumbling. The Tampa Bay front office patiently waited for Winston to mature into a well-rounded NFL quarterback, unfortunately, their offensive lines did not either. Opponents sacked Jameis 47 times in 2019. Yet, he still could pass for over 5,000 yards. In all of their greatness, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers will have issues as well if their respective offensive lines gave up sacks at that rate.
A quarterback’s time in the pocket is key for a team’s offensive success. New Orleans boasts one of the best and more cohesive offensive line units in the NFL. T Armstead, G Peat, C McCoy, G Warford, and RT Ramczyk allowed 25 sacks 187 yards at a tremendous 4.1% ratio in 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, Brees had the lowest pressure rate of any NFL QB at 24.9%. Their presence could only aid in the 2019 NFL Passing Leader’s maturation process as an NFL QB. Remember, every QB does not pass for over 5,000 yards in a season. The NFL has had it accomplished 12 times by quarterbacks, with Drew Brees accounting for five of the twelve performances.
Disclosure of Jameis Winston’s contract details have not been provided by the New Orleans Saints organization. His 2019 earning with Tampa Bay was almost $21M. The Saints had cap issues before the NFL Draft and signing Taysom Hill on today. GM Mickey Loomis and VP of Football Operations Khai Harley will have the inevitable task of signing Winston and the 2020 draftees to cap friendly contracts.