Jameis Winston is staying in the NFC South. Hours after the 2020 NFL Draft came to an end, the Saints agreed to sign the former Bucs passer, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, it will be a one-year deal for Winston, who had more lucrative offers elsewhere but who saw a better opportunity in New Orleans (Twitter link).
Indeed, Winston will now have the chance to further develop his game under one of the best to ever play, Drew Brees, who may be hanging up the cleats after the 2020 campaign. The Saints have long indicated that they expect Taysom Hill to take over when Brees does decide to retire, and they tendered Hill, a restricted free agent, at the first-round level this offseason.
On the other hand, Hill will be 30 in August and has thrown all of 13 passes in his professional career, so New Orleans’ commitment to him has drawn some public skepticism. But Hill is undeniably a valuable gadget player, and having Winston on board will allow the club to continue deploying Hill in various roles without worrying too much about an injury.
Robinson’s sources indicated that Winston will not be guaranteed the backup job behind Brees. After all, head coach Sean Payton said just last month that Hill had earned that opportunity, but he also said the Saints would add another QB to be active on game days so that Hill could continue contributing as a passer and receiver.
So it seems now that Winston and Hill may be battling not just to be the Saints’ QB2 in 2020, but to be the team’s quarterback of the future in 2021 and beyond. That will create an interesting dynamic in the locker room, as Hill said earlier this year that he is open to leaving New Orleans if the club does not view him as the long-term answer under center.
From the Saints’ perspective, adding Winston on a one-year pact puts both him and Hill on track to be unrestricted free agents in 2021. They will have the entire 2020 season to evaluate the viability of both players as Brees’ successor, and they can re-sign or tag the winner of the year-long battle, or they can go in a completely different direction.
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