Browns, Jameis Winston Finalizing Deal

The Jameis Winston sweepstakes appears to have come to an end. Connected to a number of teams as a backup quarterback addition, the former No. 1 pick is finalizing a deal with the Browns, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz. The one-year agreement will have a maximum value of $8.7MM, he adds.

Winston as a Cleveland option came up Monday night, and the former No. 1 overall pick will indeed have another opportunity as a backup. The Browns have made some major changes to their coaching staff this offseason, firing OC Alex Van Pelt and QBs coach T.C. McCartney. Ken Dorsey will step in as Kevin Stefanski‘s top lieutenant, and Joe Flacco will be headed elsewhere if he wants to continue his career.

Not only have the Browns passed on re-signing the reigning Comeback Player of the Year, but the team was not closely linked to a reunion with Deshaun Watson‘s 2022 backup — Jacoby Brissett, who rejoined Van Pelt with the Patriots. The Browns preferred a younger option compared to Flacco, and’s Mary Kay Cabot notes Watson is a Winston backer. That undoubtedly will help influence this agreement.

Brissett was, in fact, on the Browns’ radar, but Cabot adds the team did not want to authorize an $8MM payment like the Pats did. Flacco had resided as the team’s Brissett backup plan, Cabot indicates. But Cleveland will go in another direction. Winston’s agreement will surely settle south of that point, with incentives likely comprising a notable part of the former Buccaneers and Saints passer’s pact.

Best known for his 30-30 season in Tampa, the 30-year-old QB is coming off a four-year tenure in New Orleans. After the Bucs brought in Tom Brady to replace him in 2020, Winston followed Teddy Bridgewater as Drew Brees‘ backup. Cap-strapped in 2021, the Saints turned to the ex-Heisman winner to succeed Brees. While Winston produced decent numbers despite a bottom-tier receiving corps that year, an ACL tear ended his season midway through.

The Saints brought Winston back on a two-year deal in 2022 but ended up renegotiating it ahead of the ’23 season after Andy Dalton usurped the high-variance passer. Winston still stayed on as Derek Carr‘s backup, making multiple cameos as the ex-Raider ran into injury trouble during a season that featured two concussions.

Watson joined Carr in sustaining multiple injuries in 2023, but the high-priced Browns passer could not stay on the field. Watson’s November shoulder surgery prompted Cleveland to sign Flacco, who displayed stunning form in helping a battered offense do enough to sneak into the playoffs. Flacco did not play well in the Browns’ wild-card game, but the 39-year-old passer expressed interest in staying. The Browns were believed to share that interest, but the sides are set to go their separate ways after a memorable stretch.

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