The biggest question facing the Saints this offseason is whether Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill will be the team’s starting QB come Week 1. Mike Triplett of ESPN.com believes Winston may be the frontrunner given that he is younger and has more upside, but the turnover and accuracy problems he had as a member of the Buccaneers are still major issues that he will need to clean up.
Of course, the club has been publicly complimentary of both players, and it was Hill — who also offers dynamic ability as a runner — who got the nod during Drew Brees‘ injury-related absence last year. Hill and Winston will be eligible for free agency following the 2021 campaign, so in addition to the starting gig, there is a lot of money riding on the outcome of this battle.
New Orleans selected former Notre Dame passer Ian Book in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and Book will learn behind Winston and Hill before perhaps getting a chance to throw his hat in the ring in 2022.
Now for more from the Big Easy:
- The Saints’ record-setting extension for RT Ryan Ramczyk cleared about $5.5MM off their books, leaving them with $10-11MM of cap space. That number could increase if the club extends franchise-tagged safety Marcus Williams, a proposition that we recently discussed. Triplett believes New Orleans will put that money to use by signing a veteran or two, and he suggests that a big name like corner Richard Sherman — who has been connected to the team this offseason — remains a possibility.
- GM Mickey Loomis is often credited as the man behind the Saints’ aggressive manipulation of the salary cap, and while Loomis has final say over the club’s transactions, Triplett also shines a light on a less recognizable member of the New Orleans front office. In examining the team’s use of backloaded contracts, restructures, and void years, Triplett describes vice president of football administration Khai Harley as one of the most innovative pioneers of those types of cap machinations, and he suggests that Harley could become a GM candidate in the future.
- Linebacker Zack Baun, who generated some first-round buzz in the 2020 draft before ultimately falling to the third round, played in just 82 defensive snaps in his rookie season. But a hamstring injury suffered in training camp and the lack of a true offseason program hindered his development, and he will have the opportunity to make a bigger impact in 2021. As Sam Shannon of the team’s official website writes, Baun is transitioning from strongside linebacker to the weakside, which will require him to perform well in coverage. His projected ability to thrive in space is what led the Saints to draft him in the first place, and he will compete with second-round rookie Pete Werner for snaps alongside middle linebacker Demario Davis.