Although there is not a realistic path to Winston starting for the Saints, barring a Derek Carr injury, the team gave him a chance to stay. This will undoubtedly involve a pay cut, but rather than hit a crowded market for bridge- and backup-level QBs, Winston is on track to remain a Saint.
Indeed, it’s a one-year deal for Winston worth up to $8MM, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Rapoport seems to hint that there were no starting opportunities available to Winston in free agency, so the QB decided to stick with what’s familiar vs. serving as a backup somewhere else. Winston was set to earn $12.8MM next year, and the Saints could have realized an identical cap savings by making him a post-June 1 cut.
Instead, both side decided to have Winston back for a fourth season in New Orleans. The former first-overall pick had the first opportunity to replace Drew Brees as the Saints starting QB, and he was productive in his seven games, tossing 14 touchdowns vs. three interceptions while guiding the team to a 5-2 record. However, a torn ACL cut that 2021 campaign short, and when he returned in 2022, he was eyeing a revamped depth chart and a new head coach.
Winston only got three starts in 2022 as Andy Dalton ran with the starting gig. In Winston’s three games, he reverted back to his free-throwing ways, with his 4.3 interception rate rivaling his 30-interception campaign with the Buccaneers in 2019.
In 2023, the Saints won’t be nearly as reliant on the QB after they made a sizable investment in Carr. Winston will now be one of the league’s better backup quarterbacks, and his salary seemingly reflects that fact.