The Saints have quarterback Taysom Hill under contract, with a deal that pays out a very real $12 million and change for 2021 and a very fake $140 million for 2022 through 2025. As of noon ET, quarterback Jameis Winston officially can negotiate with other teams.
The Saints would like to keep Winston. And the Saints want to see if Winston can become the starter.
“Jameis Winston, we had a good year to work with, and he’s someone — I said it on record already — we’d like to sign back,” coach Sean Payton told former NFL kicker often Andersen last month in an episode of the Great Dane Nation Podcast. “I’d like to see him competing to be that guy.”
That meshes with things Payton previously has said about Winston. Payton views Winston as a competitor for the quarterback job.
The contract that the Saints eventually give to Winston, if he accepts it, will shed some light on how he’s regarded. If he makes significantly less than Hill, then the message could be that it’s Hill’s job to lose.
Payton also may be willing to use both guys, something Payton has done in recent years with Hill and Drew Brees.
The first step will be keeping Winston. Given that Winston doesn’t seem to have a clear path to a starting job anywhere else, staying put could be his best play, both in the short term and over the long haul.
If not Winston, the Saints will surely look for some other veteran quarterback to compete with and/or supplement Hill. Whether it’s Andy Dalton or Tyrod Taylor or someone else, there’s value to any quarterback in spending time with Payton and the Saints.