Jameis Winston's torn ACL may not scare off the New Orleans Saints from pursuing a reunion this offseason.
The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported New Orleans could look at the quarterback market in the weeks ahead but that the Saints "appear to be comfortable with the possibility" of bringing Winston back.
Howe's details follows a similar report by Jim Trotter of NFL Media. Trotter reported last Friday the Saints are "going to explore every option as it relates to [quarterback]" but that they're likely to negotiate a new contract with Winston:
After succeeding Drew Brees as the team's starting quarterback, Winston was having one of his most efficient seasons ever. He threw for 1,170 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions while setting a career high in passer rating (102.8) and posting his second-highest QBR (64.4), per Pro Football Reference.
While his interceptions were down significantly, the 28-year-old was well below his pace from 2019 in terms of yardage, when he led the NFL in passing yards (5,109).
Still, Winston had a solid first half in the Big Easy, especially considering New Orleans was without the services of Michael Thomas after his offseason ankle surgery took him out for all of 2021.
The ACL tear obviously raises a big question over his availability for the 2022 season. On Monday, his agent, Kevin Wilk, shared a video of him running on a treadmill:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Free-agent-to-be QB Jameis Winston is running today for the first time since undergoing surgery on the left ACL he tore Oct. 31 vs. the Buccaneers, 📹 by Kevin Wilk <a href="https://twitter.com/ChampionSportsM?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ChampionSportsM</a> <a href="https://t.co/Lt3aH4hgRX">pic.twitter.com/Lt3aH4hgRX</a>
If Winston had shown he can be the franchise QB in 2021, there wouldn't be much doubt as to the Saints' plans. Re-signing him would have been the only option on the table.
As the organization charts its course in the post-Sean Payton era, leaning on Winston as the starter makes sense, though.
The team is projected to be $49.9 million over the salary cap, so it could be a transitional year anyway. In Winston, the Saints would have a stopgap solution to buy the front office more time to develop a long-term strategy at quarterback.