Jameis Winston signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Saints to back up Drew Brees for the 2020 season. While Winston will have a chance to learn from a future Hall of Fame quarterback, he will not be a starting quarterback in 2020, a year after he led the NFL in passing yards (5,109) but also in interceptions (30).
While he is embracing his new role in New Orleans, the 26-year-old Winston is not resigned to spend the rest of his career as a backup. In fact, he believes that he is better than "a lot" of quarterbacks who will start for their respective franchises this season.
"I know what I'm worth," Winston recently said in an interview with Bleacher Report's Tyler Dunne. "And I know day in and day out, without publicly coming in and saying it, that historically I'm one of the best quarterbacks to play the game."
Winston has changed more than just teams this offseason. He has dropped nearly 20 pounds off of his 6-foot-4 frame after embracing a vegan diet. Winston has also been working with trainers on improving his habits in the pocket after throwing 88 interceptions during his five seasons in Tampa Bay.
"Sometimes, your biggest strength can be your biggest weakness," Winston said. "I'm an attacker. I'm trying to attack consistently. I'm trying to attack every time I play. I want you to feel my presence every time I'm in the game. But at the same time, I'm the quarterback. I have the ball. I'm the one who says this goes here and that goes there. I am the answer.
"So learning how to manage that attack mode and how to manage that not-attack mode is the balance. I'm trying to find that perfect balance."
Winston revealed that 10 of his 30 interceptions last season came after he suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand. Despite the discomfort -- and the interceptions -- Winston continued to play, helping lead the Buccaneers to wins over Colts and Lions while getting Tampa Bay back into playoff contention. Winston and the Buccaneers were unable to sustain their momentum, however, as Tampa Bay dropped its final two games of the 2019 season to finish with a 7-9 record. After the season, Bruce Arians, who had just completed his first year as Tampa Bay's head coach, would not commit to Winston being the team's starting quarterback in 2020. Winston was released less than three months later, after the team came to terms with former Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady.
Shortly after his release, Winston was contacted by Saints head coach Sean Payton, who didn't hide his desire to sign the former Heisman Trophy winner. Payton got his wish, with Winston inking his deal with New Orleans a little over a month after his release from Tampa Bay. Winston will now get the chance to work with a head coach and a quarterback who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, something he is hoping to experience at some point during his career.
"It's different when you have someone who's a Hall of Fame quarterback that you can ask," Winston said. "He can say, 'Hey, bro, don't watch this stuff. Just watch me. Come work out with me. Let's work out together. Let's do this again. Let's watch film together.' Now he has no choice, because I'm going to be sitting in the room. I'm going to be with him every day."
Winston also has a message for his doubters that are skeptical about his future as a starting NFL quarterback.
"There's people talking about me like I'm an old, washed-up quarterback," he said. "Like I'm 40 years old! I've got so much life. I've got so much energy, man."
"This is not over for me."