Jameis Winston: Future Wasn't on My Mind When I Signed 1-Year Saints Contract

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 1, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to throw a pass against the Atlanta Falcons during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. The Falcons won the game 28-22 in overtime. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints engineered one of the greatest steals in this year's free-agency period when they signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a one-year, $1.1 million contract ($148,000 signing bonus) to fill out the depth chart behind Drew Brees.

Winston won't be starting in New Orleans barring Brees missing time, and assuming signal-calling duties still wouldn't be a guarantee with head coach Sean Payton telling WWL Radio (h/t Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports) last March that "Taysom [Hill's] earned this opportunity to be our two."

A long-term starting opportunity, therefore, may not be on the table for Winston, but in an interview Friday on The Rich Eisen Show, the ex-Florida State star said his potential future in New Orleans wasn't a concern before agreeing to a deal (h/t Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk):

Rich Eisen Show @RichEisenShow

Why join the #Saints? @Jaboowins explains the move and if facing the #Bucs was a factor: https://t.co/Y7EvVLFHN7

“That wasn’t even on my mind. What convinced me was the opportunity, and when I talked to coach Payton, he gave it to me straight forward, and he said one thing that I really admired: [I will get] the chance to compete. The chance to compete with an amazing quarterback room and learn from the best, and I think that really sold me because I’ve been playing against them for five years, and I’m a firm believer in that room and what Drew has done and what [Payton] has done.”

That room is crowded with Brees, Winston, Hill and now seventh-round draft pick Tommy Stevens, a quarterback out of Mississippi State with rushing upside.

Winston's play may be volatile (33 touchdowns, 30 interceptions), but he was efficient (fifth in the NFL in passing yards per attempt). He also led the league in total passing yards.

He's clearly one of the top 32 quarterbacks in the league, but a starting position did not open up for the veteran.

Still, a backup job with the Saints proved enticing, with the added bonus of staying in a division that he's familiar with:

“Absolutely. It’s not just about beating the Bucs twice a year every year for the rest of my life. It’s about being in that same division, being familiar with the NFC South. Playing Carolina, even though they have a coaching change, and Atlanta. Just being able to learn from a guy playing against teams I’ve been playing against.”

Winston joins a Saints team that finished 13-3 and won the NFC South for the third straight time last year.