Jameis Winston

Latest On Drew Brees’ Future

While Drew Brees has been quiet about his future, those close to him believe he’ll hang up his cleats following the season. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport relays that “everybody believes that [Brees] will retire at the end of this season” (Twitter link). The 42-year-old is “hoping for one last run through the playoffs…hoping to end his career on the podium holding a big trophy.”

While we’ve yet to hear anything definitive about the future Hall of Fame’s status going forward, the writing has been on the wall for a while. Brees inked a deal with NBC Sports last April, signaling his post-playing career. The organization also agreed to an extension with Taysom Hill this offseason, keeping their backup QB under club control through 2021. Predictably, GM Mickey Loomis recently said that Brees would be welcomed back if he wanted to continue playing beyond this season, but the executive also revealed that no final decision has been made.

The Saints got a glimpse of what a post-Brees team could look like in 2020. The veteran missed four games, with Hill going 3-1 in his stead. While Hill is better known for his versatile skill set (he finished the season with 555 yards from scrimmage and nine rushing and receiving touchdowns), he showed that he’s capable under center. The 30-year-old finished the season having completed 72.7-percent of his passes for 928 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

It sounds like the Saints are also interested in retaining the third quarterback on their roster. Rapoport reports that the organization would like to re-sign Jameis Winston, noting that the Saints “love what they’ve seen in practice.” While the team has touted Winston’s arm strength and work ethic, they’re still (predictably) wary of his tendency of interception. The former first-overall pick got into four games this season, completing seven of his 11 pass attempts for 75 yards.

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Saints Place Jameis Winston On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Saints will have quarterback Drew Brees back in action this afternoon, but they will be without their expected backup. The team announced that it has placed Jameis Winston on the reserve/COVID-19 list, thereby ruling him out for New Orleans’ much-anticipated battle with the Chiefs. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, Winston did not test positive for the coronavirus, but he is a close contact of someone who did.

The plan was to have Winston serve as Brees’ QB2 so that Taysom Hill, who went 3-1 as as Brees’ replacement under center over the past four games, could resume his jack-of-all-trades role. However, Winston’s placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list means that Hill will be the backup signal-caller, and the Saints may be more reluctant to deploy him as a runner/receiver as a result.

Just this morning, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports wrote that Winston could have a future with the Saints beyond the 2020 campaign. Though Hill signed an extension in April and is expected to become the team’s starting QB in 2021 — assuming Brees retires — New Orleans has reportedly been impressed with Winston’s work ethic and ability.

The former No. 1 overall pick of the Buccaneers signed a modest one-year, $1MM pact with the Saints this year in an effort to rebuild his value, and there may be opportunities for him elsewhere in the coming offseason. But given Hill’s lack of experience, the Saints might still represent his best chance to win a starting job.

After a wild roller coaster ride in 2019 that saw him lead the league in passing yards (5,109) while throwing for 33 TDs against a stunning 30 interceptions, Winston has attempted just 10 passes this season.

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Latest on Taysom Hill, Drew Brees

Today could be the dawn of a new era for the Saints, as Taysom Hill will get the nod at quarterback in place of the injured Drew Brees. Although some were surprised that New Orleans would turn to Hill instead of the considerably more experienced Jameis Winston, the Saints and head coach Sean Payton have made it clear that they see Hill as a long-term starter.

This offseason, the Saints and Hill agreed to a two-year, $21MM extension that keeps the 30-year-old under club control through the 2021 season. $16MM of that money was guaranteed at signing, and though the contract represents a big commitment for a backup QB/Swiss Army knife, it’s a modest payout for a starting signal-caller. And soon after the deal was signed, reports surfaced indicating that the club plans to give the job to Hill if Brees retires at the end of the 2020 campaign as expected.

So, one reason New Orleans is inserting Hill into the starting lineup is simply because it believes in him and thinks he provides the best chance to win in Brees’ absence. The other, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, is that the Saints need to know what they have in Hill.

A source familiar with Payton’s thinking said, “Sean just wants to know,” when asked why the head coach is forging ahead with Hill. After all, Hill has thrown just 18 passes in his pro career, and Brees’ injury gives the Saints a perfect opportunity to see if their faith in the BYU product is justified. If Hill struggles, the club could pivot to Winston, and it could also save $5MM against the 2021 cap by cutting Hill after the season.

Some within the organization do not agree with Payton’s choice, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Winston apparently has plenty of support among the team’s staffers, and Payton himself struggled with the decision. Depending on how things play out over the coming weeks, Winston remains an option for 2021.

As for Brees himself, his injury is even more extensive than previously thought. According to Ed Werder of ESPN.com, Brees has 11 rib fractures — eight on his left side and three on his right (Twitter link). However, doctors have been encouraged by Brees’ progress, including improvement in his lung function, and the 41-year-old passer believes he will be able to come off IR as soon as he is eligible in Week 14 (Twitter links via Werder).

Even if it takes until Week 15 for Brees to return to the field, it sounds like the Saints will have the future Hall of Famer back in time for at least one more playoff run.

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Saints Place Drew Brees On IR

Drew Brees is now guaranteed to miss at least three games. The Saints placed the future Hall of Fame quarterback on IR on Friday, shelving him until Week 14.

Sean Payton declined to confirm reports Taysom Hill will replace Brees in New Orleans’ starting lineup instead of Jameis Winston. But that appears to be the plan, with ESPN.com’s Dianna Russini indicating the team is not planning to use Winston in any packages Sunday (Twitter link).

This is quite the bold strategy for the Saints, considering Hill has thrown 18 career passes. Winston may well see time during Brees’ absence, as he did when Brees went down in Week 10, but the former Buccaneers QB is currently set to be Hill’s backup. This certainly represents a step back for the five-year Bucs starter, who stands to be a free agent again in 2021.

As for Brees, he has sought additional opinions regarding his punctured lung and cracked ribs this week. The 41-year-old passer is believed to have fractured at least five ribs and punctured a lung. He was already confirmed to miss at least two games; the IR distinction will provide the Saints a roster spot.

Given the steep dropoff between Brees and his backups, this certainly could reshape the NFC playoff picture. Only one team receives a bye this year, thanks to the new CBA’s expanded playoff bracket, and no team has made a Super Bowl appearance without a bye since 2012. The Saints did win five games with Teddy Bridgewater starting last year, however. Over the next three weeks, the Saints have two games against the Falcons — in Weeks 11 and 13 — and one against the Broncos.

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Saints To Start Taysom Hill Over Jameis Winston

With Drew Brees sidelined, it looked as though the stage was set for Jameis Winston to reassert himself as an NFL starter. Instead, the Saints go with Taysom Hill on Sunday, leaving Winston to hold the clipboard against the Falcons (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). 

While Winston set career-highs in passing yards (5,109) and touchdowns (33) in 2019, he also set a career-high (and led the NFL) with 30 interceptions. He later agreed to a one-year, $1.1MM deal with the Saints, giving him an opportunity to learn from Brees and, perhaps, take over for him if given the opportunity.

Winston got the call when Brees’ rib injury forced him out against the Niners, and he went on to complete six of ten passes for 63 yards. Apparently, that didn’t guarantee Winston’s status as the fill-in starter ahead of Hill. Regardless of who takes the first snap, the Saints could use Winston and Hill interchangeably.

After notching their sixth-straight win, the Saints are 7-2 and marching their way towards another playoff run. Meanwhile, both of their backup QBs will be making their case to take over for Brees in 2021, if the future Hall of Famer calls it a career.

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Saints’ Drew Brees To Miss At Least 2 Games

The Saints will be without Drew Brees for at least a little while longer. The latest round of tests on the quarterback more or less matched the previous one, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). With cracked ribs on both sides and a punctured lung, Brees will be out for the next two weeks at the minimum. After that, the Saints’ medical staff will closely monitor Brees’ condition to assess whether he can return to the field.

With Brees sidelined, Jameis Winston is expected to start for the Saints with his first assignment coming on Sunday against the Falcons.Winston filled in for Brees after his early exit against the 49ers, completing six of ten passes for 63 yards in the second half. This is a massive opportunity for Winston to reassert himself before free agency, even if his starting gig only lasts for a couple of weeks. The former first overall pick signed a one-year deal with the Saints back in April. Meanwhile, Brees is looking ahead to his broadcasting future, which means that Winston could be auditioning for the long-term position.

Given Brees’ impressive track record of playing through the pain — and the presence of Taysom Hill — many questioned the wisdom of Winston’s offseason decision. Now, he’ll have an opportunity to show what he can do at the helm of one of the NFL’s best teams.

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Drew Brees Has Multiple Fractured Ribs, Collapsed Lung

We heard early this morning that the Saints were bracing for the possibility of Drew Brees missing time, and now that sounds like an absolute certainty. Brees is dealing with multiple fractured ribs as well as a collapsed right lung, Ed Werder of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

In a follow-up tweet, Werder notes that Brees suffered two fractured ribs during New Orleans’ win over the 49ers, and he had three other fractures on the other side from their win over the Bucs the week before that weren’t discovered until Monday’s X-Rays. He also writes that doctors have advised Brees to be cautious with the collapsed lung, which makes it sound like his return to the field won’t be imminent.

Brees has also been on the injury report this year with a shoulder issue, and all these ailments explain why Brees called it an “accumulative thing” after the game on Sunday. On the bright side Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that injured reserve is not currently being discussed, so it sounds like there’s still a chance the injuries aren’t too long-term.

For however long Brees has to be sidelined, it will presumably be Jameis Winston under center, although Sean Payton could easily go with Taysom Hill as well at a moment’s notice. Winston filled in for Brees in the second half against the 49ers, completing six of ten passes for 63 yards. When Brees was on the shelf last year the Saints had Teddy Bridgewater start five games.

Even if it’s only a game or two, this is a massive opportunity for Winston to redefine his narrative and reset his value heading into unrestricted free agency next offseason. The former first overall pick signed a one-year deal with the Saints back in April. Many already believed this would be Brees’ final season, as he lined up a deal with NBC Sports for his post-playing days this offseason, and the toll his body is clearly taking might only make that decision easier. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we have more information on the situation.

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South Rumors: Saints, Kelly, Titans, Jaguars

The Saints are currently without one of their starting offensive linemen. That may be the case for a bit. Andrus Peat suffered a broken thumb, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Recently re-signed to a lucrative deal, Peat is set to be out up to three weeks, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes. While the sixth-year guard could be ready for Week 1, the Saints have an experienced interior-line swing man ready to fill in. Former Vikings starter Nick Easton is now working in Peat’s place at left guard. Easton replaced an injured Peat as a starter in six games last season.

Here is the latest from the South divisions:

  • Alvin Kamara and the Saints began extension talks last week, but the sides may be far apart on terms. A deal is not particularly close at this juncture, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football tweets. Kamara is going into the final year of his third-round rookie contract. The three-time Pro Bowler will make just $2.13MM this season. Kamara joins Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon among 2017 running back draftees in negotiations. This group will battle a few hurdles — short running back primes, the position’s low value, poor returns on a few recent high-end running back deals and a likely 2021 cap reduction — as they attempt to secure long-term deals.
  • Jameis Winston has hired a new agent. The new Saints QB2 has selected Reggie Johnson of Stellar Group to represent him, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. Johnson will be Winston’s third agent since 2018. The former Buccaneers starter may be a long-term option for the Saints, but unlike Drew Brees and Taysom Hill, Winston is signed only through 2020. He could also be set to test the market again next year.
  • Ryan Kelly said in May he and the Colts were discussing an extension. With a contract season looming, the Pro Bowl center insists he would like to stay in Indianapolis long-term, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. Given Kelly’s age (27) and importance to a Colts O-line that ranks as one of the NFL’s best, he is in line to become the NFL’s highest-paid center — perhaps by a notable margin. Rodney Hudson‘s second Raiders deal currently resides atop the center list, at $11.25MM per year. This AAV figure sits more than $3MM below the top guard salary and nearly $11MM south of the leading tackle contract.
  • The Titans worked out one of their former linebackers Monday. Will Compton auditioned for the team, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Compton, 30, played 12 games for the 2018 Titans, starting two. He last played for the Raiders, suiting up for nine Oakland contests in 2019.
  • An assault case against Jaguars fullback Bruce Miller has been dismissed, according to Miller’s attorney (via Matt Barrows of The Athletic, on Twitter). Miller, 33, has not played since 2015. After allegedly assaulting a man and his son in 2016 in San Francisco, Miller was charged with aggravated assault and elder abuse.

Jameis Winston To Change Agents

Changing teams for the first time in his career this offseason, Jameis Winston took a one-year, $1.1MM offer from the Saints. If the Saints approach their QB2 about an extension, they will have to discuss that deal with a new agent.

Winston will switch agencies, informing Joel Segal he will no longer represent him, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Segal is the CEO of Lagardère Sports.

The former No. 1 overall pick hired Segal in 2018, just after his suspension ended. Winston found himself in a rare buyer’s market at quarterback this offseason, with the Buccaneers ditching him for Tom Brady. The Panthers and Colts went in other directions as well, giving their starting jobs to UFA additions Teddy Bridgewater and Philip Rivers. This left Winston in the same boat as Cam Newton and Andy Dalton, though unlike those passers, the five-year Bucs starter was healthy and available since free agency’s outset.

Winston, however, chose to succeed Bridgewater as Drew Brees‘ backup and declined more lucrative offers to do so. Similar to Newton’s Patriots deal, Winston’s Saints agreement includes $3.4MM in available incentives. The Saints now have exclusive negotiating rights regarding a Winston extension until the start of the 2021 legal tampering period. Given Brees’ age, Winston looms as a possible successor option. The Saints, though, do have Taysom Hill signed beyond this season.

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Steelers GM Fine With Backup QB Situation

The Steelers did not draft a quarterback and have not signed a veteran this offseason, and GM Kevin Colbert elaborated on why recently.

Not only did the Steelers’ 21st-year GM confirm the team did not make an offer to Jameis Winston, he said the Steelers intend to go forward with the backups they used last season. Pittsburgh has former third-round pick Mason Rudolph and ex-UDFA Devlin Hodges under contract. Former first-round pick Paxton Lynch is as well, though he did not play last season.

We’re comfortable with Mason Rudolph as a backup and Devlin Hodges in the mix. Between the two of them, they were 8-6 last year,” Colbert said during an appearance on the #PFTPM podcast (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “You get into a backup quarterback situation, 8-6 is not 14-0 but there’s some comfort in knowing that they can get you through the hopefully nonexistent spell that may occur if your quarterback gets injured.”

The Steelers make sense for a veteran, with Ben Roethlisberger coming off elbow surgery in advance of his age-38 season. His two backups oversaw a last-place offensive DVOA season. The Steelers ranked sixth in offensive DVOA in 2018, when Big Ben started 16 games, but plummeted to last in 2019 after his Week 2 injury. The Steelers’ improved defense (third in DVOA) played a significant part in the team’s eight wins. Rudolph and Hodges tied for last place in Next Gen Stats’ average completed air yards metric, with each at 4.5 per completion.

Cam Newton is now believed to be open to being a backup in the right situation. Though, Newton has dealt with more injury trouble than Roethlisberger has in recent years. Joe Flacco is now shelved until perhaps September. Other veterans available include Blake Bortles, Geno Smith, Trevor Siemian, Mike Glennon and Drew Stanton.

Colbert attributed part of his team’s lack of interest in veterans to its salary cap situation. The Steelers hold $5.7MM in cap space and have yet to sign any of their draft picks. Although Pittsburgh frequently restructures contracts to create cap room, the team is not planning to change up its Roethlisberger-Rudolph-Hodges QB room for the time being.

Lot of times when we get into salary cap management and you have significant dollars in your starter, it’s hard to put a lot of dollars in your backup,” Colbert said. “We’re very comfortable knowing if need be Mason and Devlin and/or Devlin and Mason and even Paxton Lynch, who’s got No. 1 talent. We’ll see what we got, but we’re comfortable with that right now.”

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