Jameis Winston

Saints Envision Jameis Winston Starting Week 1

The Saints were one of the finalists to acquire Deshaun Watson, but they ultimately brought back a familiar face to be their starting quarterback for the immediate future. Jameis Winston is recovering from a torn ACL, but new head coach Dennis Allen plans on him being healthy to start the 2022 season. 

When speaking on the Rich Eisen Show, Allen was asked about Winston’s recovery (video link). “I think he’s doing well in the rehab process” he said, adding that “he’s working his tail off and really doing a really good job in the rehab and I like where he’s at”. That would point to the 28-year-old being ready for the fall, as was reported in March.

When asked if Winston was, as of now, seen as the Week 1 starter, Allen answered, “well… that’s certainly the plan. There’s a lot of days between now and Week 1, but we certainly like where he’s at right now. We like the progress that he’s making… My vision and my hope is that he continues to progress on the same level as he gets another year in the system.”

After a turnover-filled tenure with the Buccaneers, the former No. 1 pick headed to New Orleans as Drew Brees‘ backup. His level of play as the starter last season, though – 1,170 yards, 14 touchdown passes and three interceptions in seven games prior to the injury – earned him a two-year extension. The team also signed veteran Andy Dalton as his backup, and declined to add a developmental signal-caller during the draft.

That leaves Winston as the No. 1 heading into a season which, the Saints hope, can see significant improvement in the passing game. A healthy Michael Thomasfirst-round receiver Chris Olave and, of course, a fully recovered Winston would go a long way to accomplishing that goal.

Saints Willing To Move Up Or Down In First Round

The middle and later stages of tonight’s first round are expected to house most of the trade action which could take place. That makes the Saints one of the most important teams to watch. It comes as little surprise, then, that New Orleans has been calling other teams regarding moves up and down the board (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler). 

After their deal with the Eagles, the Saints own the 16th and 19th overall picks. That likely puts them in range of some – if not all – of the top quarterbacks in the class. If the team does elect to add a signal-caller, it appears their preference would be either Kenny Pickett or Matt Corral. With that said, the team has already re-signed Jameis Winston and added veteran backup Andy Dalton, leading some to believe other positions could be of greater concern to them.

The two positions most referenced along those lines are offensive tackle and wide receiver. In need of a Terron Armstead replacement, Trevor Penning will likely be the top blocker still available at 16, so a move up to select a top-tier option like Charles Cross wouldn’t come as a surprise. Likewise, the team would, in all likelihood, need to move into the top 10 (or thereabouts) to be in range of wideouts such as Drake London, Jameson Williams and Garrett Wilson as they look to boost last year’s passing game.

If the top options at those positions are off the board by the middle of the round, though, a trade down would become a possibility. The strength of this class is said to be truly seen on Day 2; especially if the team chooses not to add a quarterback, then, and a run on the position occurs in the 20s, moving down could become mutually beneficial for the Saints and a QB-hungry team.

Like all Day 1 trades, the ultimate decisions teams make will become known in a matter of hours. Depending on how the top of the board shakes out, New Orleans could become one of the most active teams, and therefore one worth keeping an eye on.

Saints QB Jameis Winston Should Be Healthy For Training Camp

If things go as planned, Jameis Winston should be good to go for Saints training camp. Winston should be fully recovered from his torn ACL by the time training camp rolls around “if everything continues to go smoothly with his rehab,” a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

Winston tore his ACL in late October, sidelining him for the rest of the 2021 season. Prior to that, Winston was playing some of the most efficient football of his career. While he was completing only 59 percent of his passes, the QB tossed 14 touchdowns vs. only three interceptions. The Saints also went 5-2 in Winston’s seven starts.

We learned yesterday that the Saints were giving the former No. 1 overall pick a two-year deal worth $28MM, including $21MM guaranteed. The Saints were connected to Winston before and after the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, and with the QB carousel starting to slow down, the Saints decided to commit to their initial 2021 starter.

The former high-variance Bucs starter will face an interesting transition this year, with Sean Payton having retired. The team is retaining longtime OC Pete Carmichael, who is in line to call plays post-Payton. Assuming Winston is good to go for next season, the quarterback should slide atop the depth chart ahead of Taysom Hill, Ian Book, and Blake Bortles.

Contract Details: Winston, Ward, Fournette, Conklin, Jones, Jewell, Vander Esch

Here are the latest details from recently agreed-upon contracts around the NFL:

  • Charvarius Ward, CB (49ers): Three years, $40.5MM. Of Ward’s $26.7MM in guarantees, $12MM comes via a signing bonus, Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus tweets. The 49ers will keep Ward’s initial cap hit low, with his 2022 figure checking in at $3.8MM. That spikes to $16.3MM in 2023. Two void years are included in Ward’s deal, giving the 49ers a cap charge of $4.81MM in 2025.
  • Jameis Winston, QB (Saints): Two years, $28MM. Winston received a $14MM signing bonus and has a $1.2MM fully guaranteed 2022 base salary, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. $5.8MM of Winston’s $12.8MM 2023 base salary is presently guaranteed for injury; it will become fully guaranteed on Day 3 of the 2023 league year. Winston can earn up to $16MM in incentives, $8MM in each year, through team accomplishments — as long as Winston is the Saints’ primary starter — and participation rate.
  • Leonard Fournette, RB (Buccaneers): Three years, $21MM. Along with a $4.5MM signing bonus, the Bucs fully guaranteed Fournette’s 2022 base salary ($2MM) and $2MM of his $6.5MM 2023 base, Florio notes. Another $2MM of that amount turns from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee next year. Fournette’s $6.5MM 2024 base is nonguaranteed. Among the deal’s $1.5MM in incentives, which only cover 2023 and 2024, Fournette can collect $250K for finishing a season in the top 15 in rushing yards and $500K for a top-10 rushing finish.
  • Tyler Conklin, TE (Jets): Three years, $20.25MM. The Jets are guaranteeing Conklin $10MM, including $3.9MM of his 2023 base salary. Conklin’s cap hits go $3.4MM, $8.4MM, $8.4MM from 2022-24, Spielberger tweets.
  • Ben Jones, C (Titans): Two years, $14MM. Jones will see $8MM guaranteed, which comes via $6.88MM signing bonus and a guaranteed $1.12MM 2022 base salary, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Jones’ deal includes a $1MM roster bonus due on Day 5 of the 2023 league year. His 2023 base salary comes in at $5MM.
  • Josey Jewell, LB (Broncos): Two years, $11MM. The Broncos guaranteed Jewell $6MM, which is present through a $4MM signing bonus and a $1.5MM 2022 base salary, Wilson tweets. His nonguaranteed 2023 base comes in at $4.49MM. An additional $1MM in incentives are also available for the four-year veteran.
  • Leighton Vander Esch, LB (Cowboys): One year, $2MM. The Cowboys are guaranteeing $1.75MM and included an additional $1MM in playing-time incentives, Ari Meirov of PFF tweets.

Saints, Jameis Winston Finalizing Deal

Quarterback dominoes are falling Monday. After missing out on Deshaun Watson, the Saints are moving back to a familiar face. Jameis Winston is close to an agreement to return to New Orleans, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

Despite his midseason ACL tear, Winston will do well for himself. The Saints are giving the former No. 1 overall pick a two-year deal worth $28MM, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com add (via Twitter). That is the base value, with $21MM set to be guaranteed. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the deal includes $15.2MM in guaranteed money.

The Saints had discussed a deal with Winston before becoming full-fledged finalists for Watson. Winston remained on the team’s radar as a fallback option, though the ex-Buccaneers starter said he talked with the Colts as well. Indianapolis has since traded for Matt Ryan, filling its latest QB1 vacancy. This stands to be Winston’s third deal with the Saints, who re-signed him to a one-year, $5.5MM pact in 2021.

Although Michael Thomas‘ season-long absence reduced the Saints’ receiving corps to arguably the NFL’s worst, Winston still was at 14 touchdown passes and three interceptions when he went down in New Orleans’ seventh game. The Saints were 5-2 in Winston’s starts but 4-6 without him. The team is also expected to abandon its multiyear Taysom Hill-at-quarterback experiment, clearing the runway for Winston to avoid a competition with the high-profile gadget player.

Winston, 28, came to New Orleans as Drew Brees‘ backup in 2020, replacing Teddy Bridgewater in that role. The former high-variance Bucs starter will face an interesting transition this year, with Sean Payton having retired. The team is retaining longtime OC Pete Carmichael, who is in line to call plays post-Payton. The Saints will not be devoting much money to their starting quarterback, but missing out on Watson still leaves the team without a true long-term signal-caller option. Winston will try to fill that void.

Saints’ QB Options After Missing Out On Watson

With the news that Deshaun Watson will be acquired by the Browns, the Saints are back to where they were a week ago. Not content to enter the 2022 NFL season with only Ian Book and Taysom Hill on the roster at quarterback, New Orleans continues to evaluate the options available on the market.

The best option may be the simplest: free agent Jameis Winston has kept New Orleans in his sights while shopping out his talents. Winston was a locker room favorite for the Saints last year, seeing some success as their starter before tearing his ACL seven games into the season. Winston recently entered into discussions with the Colts, but he already has an offer on the table from the Saints. Thoughts were that the offer may be contingent on whether or not Watson found his way to New Orleans, but, with that out of play, the Saints would be more than happy to bring Winston back. Teddy Bridgewater was also a free agent option for a reunion before he signed with Dolphins earlier this week.

The Saints could also look towards the trade market for a new starting quarterback. The 49ers have widely let it be known that Jimmy Garoppolo is available. Garoppolo has put up solid numbers throughout his career while racking up wins with the Patriots and Niners. The Browns are now much more likely to honor Baker Mayfield‘s trade request after bringing Watson in. Mayfield famously replaced the zeroes in Cleveland’s win column and ended the longest playoff drought in NFL history. If New Orleans is more interested in a short-term replacement, they could make a move for Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. The former-MVP was clearly thought of as expendable as the Falcons went all in during the Watson sweepstakes.

So whether the Saints go through free agency or the trade market, there are still some starting-caliber options they can pursue. Right now, their future at the position likely hinges on Winston’s decision. If Winston decides to sign elsewhere, New Orleans will need to react fast to explore these other options.

Colts, Jameis Winston Discussing Deal; Saints Still On Radar

With three fourths of the NFC South pursuing Deshaun Watson, the quarterback market has hit a bit of a standstill. The Saints still loom as an option for Jameis Winston, but a Watson trade obviously nixes that path. Winston may act before Watson, complicating New Orleans’ QB path.

The Colts have engaged in discussions with Winston, Josina Anderson of USA Today reports (on Twitter). This makes sense, given Indianapolis’ sudden need, but Winston said the Saints have already made him an offer. Saints GM Mickey Loomis said earlier this month a Winston return was in play, though the team’s proposal may be contingent on Watson choosing the Falcons or Panthers.

[RELATED: Saints, Watson Meet Again]

Further complicating the QB market is Baker Mayfield, who has been connected to the Colts. The Browns, who have a bit of an issue on their hands now after making an unsuccessful push for Watson and irking their incumbent starter, have not indicated they will grant Mayfield’s trade request.

The No. 1 overall pick three years before Mayfield, Winston has spent the past two years with the Saints. He suffered a torn ACL midway through the season, leading to the Saints starting four QBs during the campaign. Winston, 28, threw 14 touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions, despite New Orleans’ bottom-tier pass-catching crew. That works in his favor, while the ACL tear stands to limit his market. Winston, who told Anderson he is uninterested in signing anywhere to be a backup, signed a one-year deal worth $5.5MM with the Saints last year.

Indianapolis will be set to start a different Week 1 quarterback for the sixth straight year, having traded Carson Wentz. That opened up a ton of cap space for the team but also created a noticeable void at the league’s premier position. Signing Winston would not be nearly as costly for the Colts, who lead the NFL in cap space.

QB Rumors: Trubisky, Winston, Taylor, Lock

The Giants’ new head coach, Brian Daboll, worked with free agent quarterback Mitchell Trubisky when they were both with the Bills last year (Daboll as offensive coordinator). Well, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN, Daboll has interest in luring Trubisky to join him in New York.

There’s been some interest in bringing Trubisky to Pittsburgh, as well, where a path to starting is much more clear. If Daboll’s familiarity with the sixth-year quarterback is able to attract him to the Giants, though, the head coach sees the potential for him to mirror the results of Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. A quick refresher: Tannehill arrived in Nashville in 2019 in a trade with the Dolphins. Tannehill started the season in the role of back up quarterback to the incumbent starter Marcus Mariota. After a 2-4 start to the season, Mariota was benched in favor of Tannehill, who went 7-3 for the rest of the year and led the Titans to the AFC Championship Game.

Daboll holds hope that, while Daniel Jones may retain the starting job in New York, if the need presents itself, Trubisky could provide the same effect as Tannehill.

Some other notes concerning quarterbacks around the league:

  • Another option the Steelers could be looking into, Jameis Winston is looking like the most likely starting quarterback for the Saints in 2022, according to Graziano. With Teddy Bridgewater headed to free agency, a return to New Orleans could be possible, and Winston may see some opportunities in testing the free agent market, himself. But Winston is a locker room favorite that saw success on the Saints before tearing his ACL midseason last year.
  • Tyrod Taylor lost the starting job in Houston last year to rookie quarterback Davis Mills. With Mills expected to return to the starting position next year, the Texans do have interest in bringing Taylor back in the role of back up quarterback, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Taylor has chased starting jobs throughout his career and has seen some success at times. He may search for a new opportunity to start, but, if not, Taylor has shown professionalism several times in back up roles mentoring young quarterbacks.
  • After receiving Drew Lock in the Russell Wilson-trade with the Broncos, Seattle is considering the elements to Lock’s lack of success in Denver, according to Fowler. Some believe that the revolving door of offensive coordinators contributed to his struggles. Seattle is analyzing whether they believe in Pete Carroll‘s ability to develop Lock, who showed glimpses of promise in his early appearances as a Bronco, or whether they need to make moves for Deshaun Watson to win now.

Saints GM: Jameis Winston Return In Play

The Saints have signed Jameis Winston to two contracts, and a recent report indicated a third agreement is on the table. New Orleans bringing back its Week 1 starter from last season is indeed a live scenario, per GM Mickey Loomis.

It is not a lock the Saints re-sign Winston, but Loomis plans to add one available veteran. With Winston having been in the Saints’ system for the past two seasons, he looms as a logical choice.

Hopefully we can get something done with one of the guys that’s available,” Loomis said, “and Jameis is certainly an option for us and hopefully we’re an option for him as well.”

[RELATED: Steelers Interested In Winston]

New Orleans is believed to have either begun contract talks with Winston or put that item on its itinerary. Reaching another agreement with Winston would help the Saints on the cap front, with the team beginning a second straight offseason $75MM-plus over the salary ceiling. The Saints have worked their way down to $42MM over the cap, but even considering the team’s cap-maneuvering savvy, its situation hinders an ability to pursue a higher-profile veteran. Winston signed a one-year, $5.5MM deal with the Saints in 2021 and, after his ACL tear, could not fully re-establish his value last season.

Taysom Hill still resides on the team, and his latest complex contract calls for bigger money if he becomes New Orleans’ primary quarterback. The Saints could have options in the draft, holding the No. 18 pick in a draft that does not feature an especially coveted QB crop. Loomis still voiced questions about that avenue.

When you’re picking in the latter half of the draft, you just don’t know what’s going to fall to you, No. 1, so it’s hard to target someone,” Loomis said. “Even if you decide you want to make a move forward, you’re limited in that – moving from where we’re at, at No. 18, into the top eight or 10 picks is really difficult. It’s expensive in terms of the draft capital that you have to give up. It can happen; it’s not impossible. But it’s pretty difficult to predict.”

The Saints were able to complete a trade-up for Marcus Davenport four years ago, but it cost them their 2019 first-round pick. New Orleans tried to move up for either Jaycee Horn or Pat Surtain last year but could not engineer a trade. Despite the collective doubt about the Kenny Pickett– and Malik Willis-fronted QB class, both could well be off the board by No. 18. Mel Kiper Jr.’s most recent mock does have Willis falling to No. 20 (Pittsburgh), with the longtime ESPN draft guru projecting the Saints trade up for a wide receiver.

Winston, 28, started seven games for the Saints last season and, despite being saddled with a bottom-tier receiving corps, threw 14 touchdown passes compared to three interceptions — a steep TD-INT ratio climb from his previous year as a starter. Albeit in a small sample size, Winston also posted a career-best passer rating. If the QB trade market dries up, the Saints could have more competition for Winston than they did last year.

Steelers Reportedly Targeting Winston, Bridgewater, Trubisky At QB

The Steelers have repeatedly praised Mason Rudolph in public when asked about the team’s quarterback situation. However, they’ve also made it clear they intend to add competition for the starting job this offseason, something which will likely involve being active in free agency. According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, three QBs the team is targeting are Jameis WinstonTeddy Bridgewater and Mitch Trubisky

Winston, 28, is coming off of his first year as the starter in New Orleans, following an up-and-down five year stint in Tampa Bay and one season as Drew Brees‘ understudy. He won five of his seven starts, throwing 14 touchdowns and three interceptions, but suffered a torn ACL and suffered MCL damage on Halloween which ended his season. The former first overall pick could help New Orleans transition out of the Sean Payton era by coming back on what would, presumably, be a relatively affordable deal for the cash-strapped Saints. It was reported recently that the team could be interested in doing just that.

As for Bridgewater, Denver marked his third team in as many seasons. The former Vikings starter also spent time as the backup in New Orleans, but couldn’t find much success as the No. 1 with the Panthers or Broncos. His numbers in Denver – from completion and touchdown percentage, to yards per attempt and rushing averages – were essentially on par with his career figures. The 29-year-old (whose season also ended on IR, due to a concussion) is the most proven commodity of the three listed, and could be an effective stopgap for the Steelers as they search for a more permanent solution.

Lastly, Trubisky spent the 2021 campaign as Josh Allen‘s backup in Buffalo. Despite a Pro Bowl season in 2018, his second in the league, he will forever be tied to the fact he was taken second overall in 2017 ahead of the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Without having developed as expected in Chicago, he found himself without a starting gig this past year, and threw only eight pass attempts. Like Winston, though, there is an appetite for the 27-year-old to re-sign with his current team.

As Wilson notes, and had been reported during the Senior Bowl, the Steelers are thought to like Liberty QB Malik Willis. He might have the best physical traits in this year’s class, though he is also said to be the least NFL-ready amongst potential first-rounders. Pairing him with one of these three veterans could add healthy competition to Pittsburgh’s in-house options, and increase their chances of finding Ben Roethlisberger‘s long-term successor.