Jameis Winston

NFL Injury Roundup: Saints, Watson, Heinicke, Thibodeaux

The Saints played much of the second half of their loss to the Vikings today without quarterback Derek Carr after the veteran passer took a nasty-looking hit from Danielle Hunter. It was announced that he was out for the remainder of the game with an injury to his throwing shoulder and that he was being evaluated for a concussion, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Further reports, provided by Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football, claimed that while the initial belief is that Carr avoided a major shoulder injury, he will undergo more tests in order to determine the severity. Head coach Dennis Allen told the media that Carr was only held out of the game because of a concussion, per ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, and refused to comment any further on the situation.

In Carr’s absence, former starter Jameis Winston performed admirably. He only completed just over half of his pass attempts for 122 yards and threw two interceptions, but he also threw the team’s two touchdowns in order to bring the Saints within spitting distance of the Vikings. Despite Winston’s seemingly superior effectiveness, Allen assured the media that, when Carr is healthy, there is no quarterback competition.

Lastly, veteran cornerback Marshon Lattimore left the game, as well, with what is believed to be an ankle sprain, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. He will undergo an MRI tomorrow in order to determine the severity of his ankle injury.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL:

  • Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was forced to leave the field at times today during the Browns come-from-behind victory over the division-rival Ravens. He suffered an ankle injury late in the first half of the contest and, though he remained in the game for stretches at a time, he was noticeably limping at times. After the game, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported that Watson was in a walking boot. Watson claimed that while “he doesn’t feel great now…(he’ll) be fine” and should be ready to go next weekend.
  • Yet another quarterback was forced to leave their game today due to injury when the Falcons‘ new starting passer, Taylor Heinicke, was forced to leave early in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. This required Atlanta to return to former starter Desmond Ridder for the remainder of the contest. Ridder was fairly effective, leading the Falcons on a touchdown drive before failing to convert the two-point attempt that would’ve given the team a three-point lead. The team would go on to lose by those two points after Arizona kicked a game-winning field goal. This likely doesn’t change the team’s quarterback situation, if Heinicke is healthy enough to play, but hamstring injuries can be lingering and might open up more opportunities for Ridder.
  • In a blowout loss to Dallas this afternoon, Giants outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux was knocked out of the game with a concussion, per NFL Network’s Jane Slater. Thibodeaux’s absence opened up some playing opportunities for Boogie Basham, who saw an increased role due to injuries last week, as well.

NFL Injury Updates: Carr, Kupp, Beckham

After taking a big shot to his throwing shoulder in a Week 3 loss to the Packers, Saints quarterback Derek Carr is reportedly unlikely to appear when New Orleans plays host to the Buccaneers this Sunday, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. Backup quarterback Jameis Winston is set to start in his place.

Carr wasn’t necessarily struggling in his debut season playing for any team other than the Raiders, but he wasn’t striving either. After winning the first two games of the season, Carr was only averaging 266.5 passing yards per game with one touchdown and two interceptions. Protection had been a bit of an issue as he had been sacked four times in each of his first two starts with the Saints. This past weekend, that questionable protection led to the shoulder injury that’s expected to hold him out of this week’s game.

Winston will now, once again, take the reins of the Saints’ offense. Over four years with the team, Winston has appeared in 15 games: five coming off the bench and 10 as a starter. In his first season as a full-time starter in New Orleans, Winston started the season 5-2 while throwing 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions before a torn ACL would end his 2021 season early. Last year, Winston started three games despite reports of fractures in his back and went 1-2 with four touchdowns and five interceptions before spending the rest of the season as QB2 behind Andy Dalton.

Winston will get his chance to prove he can still be an effective starter in the NFL this weekend while Carr recovers. According to Nick Underhill of neworleans.football, no consideration has taken place in respect to moving hybrid tight end Taysom Hill to quarterback this week.

Here are some other injury updates from around the league:

  • ESPN’s Sarah Barshop provided an update today on the recovery timeline of Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp. She reported that head coach Sean McVay told the media that it is “the hope” that Kupp will be able to come off of injured reserve as soon as he is eligible to in Week 5. Kupp has missed the first three games of the season due to a hamstring injury and will have to miss this weekend, too, due to his stint on IR. McVay was hesitant to make any promises that might pigeonhole his All-Pro wideout, but the update is surely encouraging news for the Rams’ offense.
  • The injury woes will continue a little longer for Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as ESPN’s Dan Graziano tells us that Beckham is likely to miss “another game or two” with the ankle injury that’s dogged him since the offseason. While Baltimore’s offense will have to do without Beckham, Graziano reports that running back Justice Hill has a chance to return this week from the toe injury that held him out of last week’s loss.

Saints QB Jameis Winston Eyeing Future Starting Role

Jameis Winston is in line to continue serving in a backup role with the Saints in 2023, but he does not envision the remainder of his career consisting solely of QB2 duties. The 29-year-old made it clear he intends to pursue a starting job in the future.

“The main thing is the opportunity, and I’m just grateful every chance I get an opportunity to step into a building and play a sport I love.” Winston said, via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell“However, I know that I’m still a starting quarterback in this league… There’s some Hall of Famers that made their big break at 30. So I’m still young, I’m still 29, but right now my role is to serve this team in the role that I’m in.”

The former No. 1 pick’s most recent full campaign as a starter came in 2019, his final season with the Buccaneers. Winston threw for over 5,100 yards and 33 touchdowns that season, though he also tossed 33 interceptions. A fresh start emerged for him in New Orleans, where he ultimately took over as the team’s Drew Brees successor in 2021.

An ACL tear interrupted his campaign, however, and limited him to just seven games that year. His level of play that season (including a 5-2 record and a 14:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio) led to the expectation that he would carry on as the Saints’ starter last season. After only three starts in 2022, though, Winston was replaced by Andy Dalton; the latter remained atop the depth chart even after Winston had healed in full from his latest injury troubles.

That led many to expect the latter would head elsewhere this offseason in search of a new opportunity. Instead, Winston agreed to a new deal which has a maximum value of $8MM (compared to the $12.8MM he was originally due in 2023) to keep him in New Orleans. That puts him in line to serve as a backup to free agent signing Derek Carr, who enters the coming year with high expectations given the four-year, $150MM deal he inked. Winston is unlikely to see any signficant playing time in 2023, but he expects that to change down the road.

“It’s challenging to be a NFL quarterback,” he said. “And when you have an opportunity to be a starting NFL quarterback, you want to make the most of it. I’ve just had some unfortunate injuries over the past three years, so this is where I’m at. But this is not what I visualize being in the near future.”

Jameis Winston To Stay With Saints

Jameis Winston looks to be taking the Saints up on their offer. He is finalizing a reworked contract that will allow him to stay in New Orleans, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets.

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.

Saints Give Jameis Winston Option To Stay

When the Saints signed Derek Carr earlier this week, it pointed to the highest-paid passer on last year’s team being moved off the roster. But Jameis Winston is not finished in New Orleans yet.

The team gave Winston the option of staying on a reworked contract, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com tweets. The demoted quarterback has until Wednesday — the start of the 2023 league year — to accept the team’s revised proposal or be cut.

It is likely the Saints offered a pay cut, with Winston set to make $12.8MM in base salary. The Saints would save $4.4MM by releasing Winston but could create $12.8MM in space by designating him as a post-June 1 cut. Though, the latter move would not create those savings until that June date.

Winston is under contract through 2023, via the two-year, $28MM deal he signed in 2022. But the former No. 1 overall pick will not have a chance to compete for a starting job in New Orleans. Winston was upset he lost his starting job to Andy Dalton after an injury, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com tweets. Dalton started the final 14 Saints games. Winston opened the season as the team’s starter, but ankle and back issues re-routed his path in Louisiana.

Accepting the Saints’ offer would signal Winston does not believe he would do better on the open market. Were Winston to pass and be released, he would be hitting free agency after a disappointing season and join a crowded market of bridge-type starters. Dalton also stands to be part of that contingent, which includes the likes of Jacoby Brissett, Teddy Bridgewater, Carson Wentz, Marcus Mariota, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Mike White and Gardner Minshew. It would not appear Winston would be especially successful in free agency, given this collection of passers being available at likely low rates.

Winston, 29, was struggling at the season’s outset and suffered a torn ACL in 2021. Knee pain lingered into the 2022 season, Winston said recently. The former Buccaneers starter did begin the 2021 season with a 14-3 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio, doing so on a team with one of the worst receiving groups in the league. Sean Payton departed after the 2021 season, however, changing the equation in New Orleans.

Teams stand to be interested in Winston (80 career starts) as a backup or as a bridge starter. The Broncos could be one of them, as Payton inherited Russell Wilson following a stunningly mediocre season. Winston serving as a backup/insurance against Wilson not returning to form in Denver would make sense. It should not be assumed Winston will be back with the Saints. The answer will be known soon.

Latest On Saints’ QB Situation

The Saints had recently entertained the notion of making a quarterback change for the second time this season, but that move will be delayed for at least one more week. Head coach Dennis Allen confirmed on Wednesday that Andy Dalton will remain the team’s starter in Week 11.

The veteran has been in place as New Orleans’ No. 1 since Week 4, when he stepped in for an injured Jameis Winston. The latter entered the season fully recovered from his 2021 ACL tear and with a two-year deal in hand to continue where he left off last season. Back and ankle injuries have limited his availability during this campaign, however, and he struggled during his three starts.

Dalton remained atop the depth chart even after Winston was healthy enough to dress, given the team’s relative offensive success. Last month, Allen indicated that Dalton could take on the starter’s role on a full-time basis depending on his performance and Winston’s availability to recover. The 35-year-old’s first five starts saw the Saints put up no fewer than 24 points in each contest, quelling any potential controversy at the position.

In the two games which have followed, New Orleans has scored 23 total points in losses to the Ravens and Steelers. Allen endorsed Dalton in the former case, stating that he gave no consideration to a midgame QB change against Baltimore. Days ago, though, the door seemed to open to a Winston return as the Saints remain in search of a catalyst for their banged-up offense.

“[W]e haven’t been doing as well the last couple weeks,” Allen said earlier this week, via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, on the subject of a potential quarterback swap. “So, I think we’ve gotta evaluate that. I think that’s something that we need to look at.”

Allen said today (via Terrell, on Twitter) that Winston is still not 100% healthy. More worryingly, he added that it remains unclear if the former No. 1 pick will reach full health any time soon. For at least one more game, then, it will be Dalton under center as New Orleans hosts the Rams on Sunday as a pair of struggling teams aim for their fourth win of the season.

Andy Dalton To Remain Saints’ Starting QB

Last night saw the Saints deliver an underwhelming performance on offense during their loss to the Ravens. It invited questions about the team’s quarterback plans moving forward, but no changes are imminent on that front.

Veteran Andy Dalton made his sixth consecutive start in the 27-13 loss, one in which the Saints converted three of 11 third downs and were out-possessed by more than 15 minutes. Overall, the 35-year-old threw for 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception. At no time during the contest, though, did head coach Dennis Allen consider making a switch.

“There was a lot that wasn’t good offensively tonight,” Allen said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk“There was a lot of dirty hands in that.” Taking a wider view of the Saints’ offense, he added, “whatever it’s been, five weeks, I think our offense has been pretty good… I’m looking at this as we had a bad day at the office offensively tonight” (Twitter link via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell).

Dalton took over for an injured Jameis Winston beginning in Week 4. While the latter worked his way toward recovery from back and ankle ailments, Dalton had guided the team to two victories and three one-score losses heading into last night. The longtime Bengals starter, who has since become a journeyman backup, was said to have a relatively long leash last month based on his play.

Things took a turn on Monday, Dalton’s 20th loss in 26 career primetime appearances. Overall, though, the Saints have been more productive with him at the helm compared to Winston, who threw five interceptions and took 11 sacks in his three starts to begin the campaign. He was signed to a two-year deal this offseason to return to the starting role he had prior to last year’s ACL tear, but Allen’s remarks confirm that the situation is much different in 2022.

New Orleans’ QB plans are being made, of course, within the context of an offense which has been shorthanded throughout the campaign. The team’s much-improved receiving corps has not been at full strength, a situation which is likely to remain the case with Michael Thomas not expected to play again this year. Dalton – or, Winston, if another switch is made down the road – will remain in less-than-ideal circumstances for the duration, as the 3-6 team looks to regroup in the wide-open NFC South.

Jameis Winston Eyeing Week 8 Return

Saints quarterback Jameis Winston, who has been dealing with serious ankle and back injuries this year, is hoping to return to the field for New Orleans’ Week 8 matchup against the Raiders next Sunday, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Winston has been active and in uniform for both of the team’s past two games, but Andy Dalton has been operating as the starting QB since Week 4.

Last Sunday, we heard that Dalton could remain the Saints’ QB1 regardless of Winston’s injury status. Since then, however, the club has dropped two straight games, and Dalton has not played well in either of them. In a Week 6 loss to the Bengals, Dalton completed 17 of 32 passes for 162 yards and a score — good for a QB rating of 77.9 — and in a Week 7 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday, the Red Rifle threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

In fairness, top receiver Michael Thomas has not played in any game that Dalton has started, and in the Cincinnati contest, Dalton was without Thomas, Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry. Still, a passer that was praised for being a “calming influence” on the offense was anything but in the Arizona game, and while head coach Dennis Allen has not made a definitive announcement, it’s fair to expect Winston to be reinserted into the starting lineup in Week 8 if he is healthy enough.

After all, Winston guided the Saints to a 5-2 record through seven games in 2021 before an ACL tear ended his season prematurely, and he was re-signed this offseason to a two-year, $28MM contract to reprise his role as the club’s QB1. And, despite Winston’s health concerns — which include multiple spine fractures — and his struggles in a Week 3 defeat at the hands of the Panthers, Allen said he was not considering a permanent switch under center,

Had Dalton performed better in the past two contests, Allen may have a tougher decision on his hands. But Dalton’s play has underscored the fact that a healthy Winston is the best option for a team that, despite its 2-5 record, has a legitimate chance to win its division.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Brate

Even after the Panthers traded Robbie Anderson, they are still being linked to moving key pieces. The team still wants to keep its defensive core together, according to Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson (on Twitter). That said, Robinson adds that while the Panthers are not going to conduct a fire sale, they will likely aim to unload more players viewed as “Matt Rhule guys.”

This is interesting considering the two players who have been most closely linked to trades — Christian McCaffrey and Shaq Thompson — were brought in before Rhule arrived. Rhule did greenlight McCaffrey’s extension; Thompson’s deal came under Marty Hurney‘s leadership. Carolina’s Temple contingent remains strong, even post-Anderson. Matthew Ioannidis, Cory Littleton and P.J. Walker remain in key roles, though Rhule-backed players cannot only be limited to the ones he coached in college. Littleton and Ioannidis are on one-year deals, making them interesting trade candidates.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • David Tepper bought the Panthers in 2018. The two football-related storylines most closely associated with the owner are Rhule’s seven-year, $62MM contract and the team’s Deshaun Watson pursuit. With the Panthers not having a winning season during Tepper’s time, is safe to say the owner’s stock has dipped. In the wake of Rhule’s firing, multiple NFL personnel men did not speak highly of Tepper, whom they classify as emotional and “difficult” to work for, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones. Descriptions like these, along with Carolina’s quarterback situation, stand to make it harder for Tepper to hire his next coach. Then again, he could simply throw out another monster contract. Rhule was believed to prefer the Giants to the Panthers in 2020, but money certainly talked.
  • Although the Panthers designated Sam Darnold for return from IR, Steve Wilks said Walker will be his starter in Week 7. Jacob Eason will back up the former XFLer. Walker started in Week 6 and struggled, but the Panthers’ top three options (Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Matt Corral) are injured. Mayfield did return to practice Thursday, suggesting a possible Week 8 return is in play. But Mayfield and Darnold are set to wage another competition — several weeks after Mayfield prevailed in the training camp battle — following the former’s woeful start. The Panthers have three weeks to activate Darnold from IR.
  • The Saints will go with Andy Dalton again tonight. The 12th-year vet will make his fourth start this season, while Ed Werder of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) Jameis Winston will be the emergency No. 3 QB. Dalton supplanting Winston as the Saints’ full-time starter entered the equation recently, though Dennis Allen said Winston is not yet fully healthy. Winston, whom Dalton initially replaced due to spine fractures, re-signed on a two-year, $28MM deal this offseason. The Saints guaranteed Winston $15.2MM; Dalton is making $3MM this year.
  • Cameron Brate left the Buccaneers‘ Week 6 game on a stretcher, but Todd Bowles provided relatively good news on the veteran tight end. Brate sustained a sprained neck and did not suffer any loss of feeling or nerve damage. It is not clear when the ninth-year Buccaneer will be able to play again. The Bucs drafted two tight ends — Cade Otton and Ko Kieft — this year before signing Kyle Rudolph. Otton, a fourth-round pick out of Washington, worked as Brate’s primary replacement against the Steelers.

Andy Dalton Could Remain Saints’ QB1

8:40pm: Dealing with a severely depleted receiving corps, Dalton put up lesser numbers than his first two starts (17-of-32 passing, 162 yards, one touchdown) in a 30-26 loss. The Saints’ effectiveness in the running game had them either leading or tied until the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, though, which could convince the coaching staff to stick with Dalton.

When asked about his plans at QB for Thursday’s game, Allen did not name a starter. He explained that Winston has still not fully recovered, adding, via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell“Let’s get in the study on that and we’ll see where he’s at and then we’ll go from there.”

11:08am: Saints quarterback Andy Dalton has started each of the past two games for New Orleans in place of Jameis Winston, who continues to deal with back and ankle injuries. Winston will be active and in uniform for the team’s Week 6 matchup with the Bengals today, but only because the club needed roster space for positions other than backup QB.

That suggests that Winston is at least healthy enough to play on an emergency basis, which would seem to indicate that he will be back under center sooner rather than later. However, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that, regardless of Winston’s injury status, Dalton could become the Saints’ full-time starter if he continues to acquit himself well (video link).

Rapoport says Dalton has been a “calming influence” on the team’s offense. New Orleans is 1-1 in his two starts, including a narrow 28-25 loss to the Vikings in Week 4 and a 39-32 victory over the Seahawks in Week 5. In those games, Dalton — who served as Cincinnati’s starting quarterback for nine years before joining the Cowboys, Bears, and Saints as a presumptive backup/bridge starter in the last three offseasons — has completed 69.2% of his passes, throwing for 423 yards and two TDs against once interception, good for a QB rating of 98.5

Winston, meanwhile, struggled to a 79.5 QB rating in his three games at the helm this year, leading the Saints to a 1-2 mark in those contests. On the other hand, the two losses came after he suffered multiple fractures in his spine, which certainly had a significant impact on his performance.

The Saints re-signed Winston this offseason on a two-year, $28MM deal ($15.2MM guaranteed), and added Dalton on a one-year, $3MM accord. Winston spent the offseason rehabbing the ACL tear that ended his 2021 campaign prematurely, but the contracts that the two players received from New Orleans made it clear that Winston was viewed as the undisputed starter. Indeed, even after Winston’s injury and his struggles in a Week 3 defeat at the hands of the Panthers, head coach Dennis Allen said he was not considering a permanent QB switch.

Dalton’s efforts may have changed his HC’s mind, and if he plays well against his former club on Sunday, he could buy himself at least one more start, especially since the Saints have a short week in advance of their Thursday night bout against the Cardinals in Week 7.