Winston (thumb) agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Saints on Tuesday. The Saints and Winston have been finalizing the contract over the last few days, and the deal is now official with the passing of Monday's deadline for signings factoring into the 2021 compensatory pick formula. The departure of Teddy Bridgewater this offseason would appear to open up the backup job for Winston, but he instead likely will be in competition for the job with holdover Taysom Hill. Even with an injury to Drew Brees, Winston isn't guaranteed to immediately lead the offense as Bridgewater did last season. However, spending a year under the tutelage of Brees and Sean Payton should still prove beneficial after the 2015 first-overall pick led the NFL with 30 interceptions last year.
Winston (thumb) is in the process of finalizing a one-year contract with the Saints, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reports. Reports surfaced shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft on Saturday that the Saints were interested in bringing Winston aboard, and the two sides were apparently able to quickly hammer out the parameters of a deal. As Mike Triplett of ESPN.com notes, the Saints may choose to wait until after 4 p.m. ET on Monday to make Winston's signing official, as New Orleans wouldn't lose out on a future compensatory draft choice after that deadline. Assuming the deal ultimately gets finalized, Robinson notes that Winston wouldn't be guaranteed the top backup quarterback job that was vacated when Teddy Bridgewater signed with Carolina in March; instead, Winston would be forced to battle with holdover Taysom Hill for the No. 2 role in a best-case scenario. Even though Winston's path to a starting gig in New Orleans would be blocked barring an injury to Drew Brees, the opportunity to spend a developmental year under offensive guru Sean Payton could help the 26-year-old cash in as a free agent next offseason in a manner similar to Bridgewater, who signed a three-year, $63 million deal with the Panthers.
Winston's (thumb/knee) former coach in Tampa Bay, Bruce Arians, said Wednesday in an interview on Fox Sports Radio's "The Rich Eisen Show" that he's reached out to two teams on the quarterback's behalf, Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "I talked to two teams," Arians said. "I think it was just to [tell them], 'Get him on your roster' and it would be a great fit. One team was not interested and the other one was." Winston's hopes of returning to Tampa Bay for a sixth season ended nearly two weeks ago, when it became apparent that Tom Brady was leaving New England to sign with the Buccaneers. Though he's just 26 years old and has 70 career starts on his resume, Winston's high turnover rate has likely contributed heavily to the cool reception he's faced thus far in free agency. With few -- if any -- starting jobs left open at this stage of the offseason and another experienced, more accomplished option in Cam Newton also looking for work, Winston could be forced to settle for a backup job at his next stop.
Winston's (thumb/knee) 2020 status is currently the subject of much speculation, and the Buccaneers sound increasingly open to other free-agent options at the position, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports. Auman formed his conclusions regarding the team's seemingly cooling interest on the first overall pick of the 2015 draft from comments made by both GM Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians during the 2020 NFL Combine. Arians referred to Winston as an "unknown quantity" while heaping unfettered praise on fellow free-agent-to-be Shaquil Barrett in the same breath. The veteran offensive guru also made mention of a head coach being obligated to explore the possibility of a better option at the position if there are any doubts about the starting quarterback. Arians followed up that remark by offering up the names of Tom Brady and Philip Rivers as players whose availability he'd theoretically inquire about ahead of free agency, while Mike Sando of The Athletic also reports one NFL GM at the combine mentioned the Buccaneers are highly interested in Teddy Bridgewater in free agency. Licht would only offer tepid endorsement of Winston in his own right, and given the transition and franchise tags would cost the team $25 and $27 million, respectively, for this coming season, there appears to be growing evidence the team may be prepared to move on.
Winston reportedly underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus that required trimming, NFL.com reports. The report doesn't specify when the procedure occurred, but this nugget only reinforces that the QB -- who was already known to have previously been dealing with a hairline fracture in his throwing thumb -- played through some aches and pains this past season. In the process, the 26-year-old threw for 5,109 yards but logged a shaky 33:30 TD:INT ratio. In any case, as free agency approaches, this nugget adds some context to the mixed results the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft put up in 2019. At this stage, a return to the Bucs -- either on a new deal or through a franchise or transition tag -- still seems like a plausible outcome for Winston.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/13||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||23||22.13|
|2||09/22||@Las Vegas Raiders||0.00|
|3||09/28||Green Bay Packers||3||14.33|
|5||10/13||Los Angeles Chargers||8||15.63|
|9||11/09||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||23||22.13|
|10||11/15||San Francisco 49ers||15||18.00|
|15||12/20||Kansas City Chiefs||14||17.89|
|3 Year Avg||62.7||3868||24||18||222||1||284|