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Will Jameis Winston Return to the Saints?

Jameis Winston is showing tremendous gains while rehabbing his knee.  The QB is set to become a free agent on March 16, will he return to New Orleans?
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Jameis Winston is showing tremendous gains while rehabbing his knee. The QB is set to become a free agent on March 16, will he return to New Orleans?  He's popular with his coaches, teammates, and fans— BUT...

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2)
Winston Workout week 18
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Jameis hedged a bet on 2021. He would have an outstanding season. The NFL would raise the salary-cap limit, and he'd have options for a prime contract in 2022. He went all in and signed a one-year deal when a multi-year contract would've offered security. 

Then the injury occurred.  And, Sean Payton wept following talking with Jameis in the locker room and knowing the extent of his injury.

It was All Hallows Day Evening — Halloween — the day the "Saints" are revered and respected. However, Devin White showed little respect and horse-collared Winston. An awkward fall, buckled knee — "a significant injury," Sean Payton would tell reporters.

Winston was 5-2 as the Saints' starter before his season ended. New Orleans defeated Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Mac Jones, and Tayler Heinicke, with Winston as the signal-caller. The two horrible losses to the Panthers and Giants were due to primarily defensive collapses, but give him the L's.

In seven games, Winston completed 95/161 passes for 1,170 yards, 14 touchdowns, three interceptions, a 102.8 rating, and a game-winning drive. Hill, Siemian, and Book could only pass for 15 touchdowns the remainder of the season.

During the season and today, onlookers would bring up the names of Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, or even Aaron Rodgers are possible replacements for Winston in New Orleans.

Why do some fans have an itch to discard the probability of Winston returning to the Saints? Some point to an erratic offense. In fact, after Winston, wasn't the offensive progression worse at times with Siemian, Hill, and Book?

Sean Payton and Jameis Winston were on the verge of getting the Saints' offense on track before the torn ACL crashed the season. There's no doubt that New Orleans would have been in the postseason mix if Winston remained healthy. As a matter of fact, it was the first major health issue the quarterback has suffered since entering the league.

New Orleans does not have several options at quarterback as some may hope. As our John Hendrix pointed out, "[Russell] Wilson's trade value would likely command at least two 1st Round picks and at least one Day 2 pick as a potential starting point. New Orleans would likely part with their 2022 and 2023 1st Rounders to help acquire him."

Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett is a fantastic young talent at quarterback — but he would still be a rookie — as would Ridder, Strong, and Corral. After Wild Card weekend, no rookies advanced their teams to the divisional rounds of the playoffs in years.

Winston is the best option for the Saints for several reasons that won't cripple the team's future. Giving up draft picks for another veteran could work for New Orleans and create coming issues.

Zimmer (Head Coach) and Spielman (GM) are gone in Minneapolis. There have been rumors of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins showing interest in the Saints - largely because of Sean Payton. Although his contract would need major tweaking, so would Wilson's.

Winston is making tremendous progress in rehabilitating his damaged knee. The workout videos with sports physical therapist Kevin Wilk are encouraging.

Jameis is a competitor and an incredible teammate. His past is the past. People were hoping for the 30-30 Winston of 2019 to return, even though it didn't. It may be time for Saints fans and critics to rest the Jameis Winston negativity.

An NFL team looking at the free agency market will be disappointed this offseason.

Only the NOLA native Peyton Manning has thrown for more yards in his first five seasons. Not Marino, Mahomes, or Luck, not even Wilson, can make this claim. And for all of those calling him a "turnover machine." Peyton Manning had 100 interceptions to Winston's 88.

He still can have you on the edge of your seat at times. The lack of consistency in the Saints' wideouts contributed to some of his erratic play — but not all.

Jameis' career isn't finished. Most likely, it's not over in New Orleans. It was a small sampling. But was it enough for Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis to turn elsewhere in 2022?

We shall see.

Possible Targets for Winston:  Saints, Pittsburgh, Giants, and WFT

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