Winston the better option for Saints before/after Stafford Trade?

The Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford quarterback comparisons were hot in New Orleans before the Lions-Rams mega-trade.  Was Winston the better long-term option for the Saints over Stafford?
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The Matthew Stafford trade scenarios bombarded the headlines, tweets, and comments since the 12-year veteran mutually agreed to part from the Detriot Lions last week. Most believed Stafford would have been a natural fit in New Orleans for Sean Payton. The main caveat is that the Saints still have two quarterbacks under contract, Drew Brees and Taysom Hill, and one backup, Jameis Winston, who has a shared interest in returning to the team.

Our SNN intern Andrew Gullotta wanted to compare Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford in a couple of their productive seasons as quarterbacks. 

QUARTERBACK COMPARISON

QB Comparison

Player A obtained an edge in five categories, and Player B possessed an advantage in the remaining five statistics. 

Player A was the more accurate, won more games, and posted an advantage in QBR, Passer Rating, and Approximate Value. However, Player B was the more efficient signal-caller, as he had a superior DVOA, PFF Grade, and the number of effective yards. 

These quarterbacks draw close similarities.

Who are these signal-callers in this comparison? 

Winston Stafford Comp (2)

Player A is Jameis Winston (2018-2019), and Player B is Matthew Stafford (2012-13). These statistics are from the fourth and fifth seasons of the former first-overall draft picks. 

The two quarterbacks' performances demonstrate they have big arms and can push the ball downfield with ease. Also, the players accumulated high yardage, touchdowns, and Approximate Value totals. 

Yet, their decision-making skills need an improvement, illustrated by their low passer ratings, QBRs, and touchdown-to-interception ratios. 

These seasons' sampling displayed that the quarterbacks have the untapped potential needed to become a franchise signal-caller. Still, they needed to develop critical mechanical and decision-making for the quarterback position.

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STAFFORD

In Stafford’s case, the Lions hired a new head coach, Jim Caldwell, in 2014, and Detroit agreed to a three-year contract extension with the former Georgia Bulldog to keep him with the Lions. 

The change was what Stafford needed to take the next step as an elite player in the league. After one year of getting acquainted with a new system, Stafford drastically progressed. Especially in the last three years of Caldwell’s tenure in Detroit. He improved in every statistical category detailed above, but one. 

Specifically, Stafford’s passer rating rose 14.5 points, completion percentage went up seven points, and a touchdown to interception ratio more than doubled from 2012-13 to 2015-17. Most importantly, he won 17.8% more often in the 2015-17 period. 

This increased output solidified Stafford’s position as a franchise quarterback and earned him a second pricey contract extension with the Lions. The 2011 Comeback Player of the Year was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday evening as Detroit rebuilds under new head coach Dan Campbell.

Stafford, 33, lands in L.A. with head coach Sean McVay guiding the Rams' offense.  Will he be the savior for talented, yet underachieving players.  How much does he have left to give against West Coast rivals in the 49ers, Cardinals, and Seahawks?

Jameis Winston - QB

WINSTON

Just like Stafford in 2013, Winston was at the crossroads of his career. After his roller coaster 2019 season, the 2019 5,000-yard passer signed a 1-year, $1.1 million contract with the Saints.  Why?  Tampa Bay released him to sign Tom Brady.  But most of all, the signing gave him an opportunity to learn from Drew Brees and Sean Payton. 

Although Winston threw 12 passes in 2020, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner cemented himself as a probable Drew Brees successor in New Orleans. According to CBS reporter and NFL insider Jason La Canfora, Payton and the Saints are “eager” to re-sign Winston. 

Jameis Winston's year in the Saints locker room has helped him to develop as a quarterback. In his interview with Michael Vick on QB7, Winston said Brees taught him it wasn't just about using his strong arm to make a big play, but it was consistency that would help him with decision-making.  

For Winston, his next situation will determine if he will fizzle out and never reach his star potential.

The National Champion from FSU is putting in all the work to do everything in his power to make sure he goes down the right path at this pivotal juncture of his career. Winston corrected faulty eyesight with Lasic surgery, hired a personal coach to help him learn better mechanics, and accepted a pay cut to learn behind one of the best quarterback-head coach duos of all-time in Brees and Payton. 

Suppose Winston and the Saints agree for him to return. In that case, he will inherit one of the better quarterback situations in the league - a high-caliber roster and an excellent offensive-minded coach in Sean Payton.

Can Winston resurrect his franchise quarterback talents, just like Stafford did five years ago with the Lions?

Many Saints fans and analysts alike are clamoring to see if the Saints will acquire Stafford to replace the legendary Drew Brees. Stafford is 33 and Winston is 27.   Jameis' upside and the "gas in the tank" is higher at this point in their careers.

Before searching outside Saints headquarters in Metairie, they might consider the younger and equally talented player staring them right in the face.   

Does New Orleans believe Jameis Winston is and was the better option?

We shall see.

The article was written by Saints News Network's intern Andrew Gullotta.