As the days go by, the idea of the Saints making a move to acquire a big-name quarterback on the market is slowly fading away. Especially after the organization’s most successful head coach, Sean Payton, decided to step away from his position.
In his introductory press conference, Payton’s successor, Dennis Allen, made it clear that the quarterback position will be one of the Saints biggest priorities heading into the offseason. Various reports have stated that New Orleans will utilize every route to find a viable option at the team’s most important position. However, what if the Saints’ next man under center is already among them?
On the surface, Jameis Winston was on the cusp of having one of the biggest turnarounds for an NFL quarterback. Before suffering the season-ending injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Winston had thrown for 1,170 yards, 14 touchdown passes, and only three interceptions. He had also elevated the Saints to a 5-2 record before everything went off the rails from an injury standpoint. Based on the current need for a reliable starting quarterback on other teams, Winston’s 5-2 record, along with his “Harvard education in quarterback school,” could be highly coveted by franchises looking for a starting QB.
If the Saints want to get back to their 2017-2020 Super Bowl contending levels, re-signing Winston will present the best opportunity to return to those aspirations. Today, let’s examine three benefits of New Orleans re-signing Winston to a new deal compared to the inherited risks of having a quarterback known for having multiple turnovers in games and a checkered past off the field.
1. Already Familiar With the Scheme on Offense
One of Winston’s most significant shortcomings in Tampa Bay was that he played in an offense that was always in flux. When he signed with New Orleans, he could sit out a year and carefully learn the nuances of an efficient offense. On numerous occasions, Winston has talked about the knowledge gained by understanding what it means to be a quarterback playing within the Sean Payton scheme.
“But it’s so much more than making every throw on the field. Like if it were just about arm strength and the ability to maneuver the ball downfield, then a lot of people would be good quarterbacks. There’s so much more to it, and being able to experience someone using their strengths to help lead the offense over and over down the field was an advantage for me. Because I always knew, ‘Hey, that’s the way that I know, that’s just go downfield, give guys 50-50 chances at the ball.’ But Drew taught me a new way—being efficient.”
With Pete Carmichael returning as the Saints offensive coordinator, Winston will have another year to strive in an offense that can be pretty frightening for opposing coaches.
2. Has the Respect of the Entire Locker Room
One of the biggest attributes that a starting NFL quarterback must have is being respected by every player in the locker room. In the games that Winston was under center, he showed that he is more than capable of helping this team navigate through any rough patches in post-Payton-Brees era.
3. Unafraid to Perform in Big Moments
Dating back to his days with the Florida State Seminoles, Winston has been the type of quarterback that will not shy away in big moments. Having this mentality allowed Florida State to win the 2013-2014 national title with Winston at the helm. Regardless of the outcome, a team that wants to be successful in the long run must have a quarterback that is not afraid to produce on some of the league’s most prominent stages, such as playoff games, Super Bowls, etc. During his 15-seasons in a Saints uniform, Drew Brees set the standard for how a signal-caller should conduct himself under the bright lights. Does Winston have some huge shoes to fill in this area? Yes, but I believe he is up to the task of continuing the Saints winning ways in the post-Payton-Brees era.
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