The Best Potential Landing Spots for Jameis Winston in 2021
Even though Jameis Winston's 2021 playoff journey continues, multiple teams may have him on their free-agent radar.
He didn't see much action during the 2020 campaign, completing seven of his 11 pass attempts for 75 yards between Weeks 9 and 10. However, he's only one term removed from recording the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' single-season record in passing yards (5,109), along with 33 touchdowns passes for the No. 1-ranked aerial attack.
At 27 years old and with the draft pedigree of a 2015 No. 1 overall pick, Winston will probably attract multiple suitors on the open market if the New Orleans Saints allow him to walk in the offseason.
Although he has a history of throwing interceptions (88), he had Lasik eye surgery during the previous offseason, which may help his field vision as a pocket passer.
With a year behind a future Hall of Famer in Drew Brees and under an offensive mastermind such as head coach Sean Payton, Winston may have a better understanding of the quarterback position and the game as a whole.
Let's take a look at five clubs that should consider signing him this offseason.
The Chicago Bears went into the previous offseason with a quarterback competition between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. Neither cemented a long-term future with the franchise.
The Bears benched Trubisky in favor of Foles in Week 4. Through seven starts, the latter threw one or no touchdowns in five games and reverted to the backup role in Week 12 because of a hip injury.
Trusbisky went 3-3 as a starter in the final six weeks of the campaign, which helped Chicago clinch a playoff berth. However, he needed to pick up some wins in the postseason to secure a spot on the roster going forward, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Bears offense fell flat in the wild-card round. Trubisky threw for 199 yards and a touchdown in the 21-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Matt Nagy seems "well-positioned" to return as the head coach. If so, he could be under a lot of pressure to push for another playoff appearance next season.
The Bears could sign Jameis Winston on a modest deal. He would compete with Foles or a rookie quarterback who needs a year to develop in a backup role.
If Winston beats Foles for the starting spot, the front office could possibly trade the Super Bowl-winning quarterback to another squad that wants a high-end backup.
Aside from a late stretch with Trubisky under center, the Bears offense looked stagnant through most of the 2020 campaign. Winston has thrown 88 interceptions in his career, but he also pushes the ball downfield, and Chicago needs a playmaker under center.
New England Patriots
Newton's numbers look awful on paper. He threw for just 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 starts. The 6'5", 245-pound signal-caller made most of his impact on the ground, rushing for 592 yards and a team-leading 12 scores.
In fairness to Newton, he had arguably the worst pass-catching group among the 32 teams. Wideout Julian Edelman missed 10 games after undergoing knee surgery. Only Jakobi Meyers finished with at least 50 receptions, though he didn't score a touchdown.
Jarrett Stidham, who's completed 24 of 48 career passes for 270 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, isn't a lock to take over the starting job.
Jameis Winston wouldn't solve the Patriots' issues with a lack of weapons, but he's four years younger than Newton. Secondly, he doesn't have a history of injuries. Newton has undergone multiple shoulder procedures in recent years and recovered from Lisfranc surgery during the previous offseason.
Finally, because Winston served as a backup and third-stringer for most of the 2020 campaign, he would likely come at a cheaper price than Newton, who started all but one game this season.
If offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could curb Winston's turnovers, the Patriots could develop him into a decent starting quarterback.
New Orleans Saints
Don't rule out the New Orleans Saints re-signing Jameis Winston to battle Taysom Hill for the starting spot if Drew Brees retires in the offseason.
Saints head coach Sean Payton discussed Winston and the future of the quarterback position with NFL Network's Jim Trotter on the Huddle and Flow podcast in December.
"He's going to have that opportunity [to start in New Orleans] the minute Drew leaves," Payton said.
Winston may realize his opportunity in the upcoming season. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said he hasn't talked to "one person who believes that Drew Brees will play in 2021" over the last few months.
If the speculation about Brees turns into a reality, the Saints could retain Winston and allow him a chance to surpass Hill on the depth chart.
Hill started four games in place of Brees, who sat out with a punctured lung and multiple fractured ribs this season. Yet Payton seems prepared to leave the door open for a training camp battle if the Saints need a new commander in the huddle.
As a dual-threat quarterback, Hill is susceptible to fumbles while on the move. He fumbled six times during his four-game stretch as a starter.
On Trotter's podcast, Payton also pointed to Hill's issue with going through his reads from the pocket:
"...his pocket passing I think has improved, and it's good to see his velocity, some of his decisions. I think it still needs to happen quicker. I still think he has to process it quicker. And because of that, you're seeing a little bit more in the sack and hurry quarterback totals, even though he can run."
Winston cannot move like Hill, but he's spent more time reading and breaking down NFL defenses, which gives him a fair shot to win the starting job if the Saints re-sign him.
Despite his basic passing statistics, Ben Roethlisberger didn't look good coming off shoulder surgery. He threw for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but he struggled to maximize the team's receiving talent.
Even though the 38-year-old had a versatile pass-catching group that featured Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Eric Ebron, he ranked 28th in intended air yards per pass attempt and tied with rookie Tua Tagovailoa and Alex Smith for 29th in yards gained per pass attempt.
Roethlisberger dinked and dunked his way through the 2020 term. Opposing defensive backs sat on routes without much threat of the deep ball or explosive plays.
Roethlisberger has a $41.25 million cap hit for the 2021 season. Unless he retires, Pittsburgh will have to stomach that financial charge while assessing the quarterback position for the long term.
Pittsburgh has the 24th overall pick in the 2021 draft, which keeps it out of range for a top quarterback prospect. Jameis Winston, though, could bridge the gap between the present and the future. With a year in the system, he could compete for the starting job in 2022.
Because of Winston's starting experience, he should be able to take over the offense and produce if Roethlisberger completely bottoms out or suffers an injury in 2021.
Washington Football Team
Barring a trade up into the top 12, the Washington Football Team will miss out on top quarterback prospects during the 2021 NFL draft. They have a big question mark at the position as Alex Smith ponders his future.
According to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, Smith will "take a few weeks" to gather his thoughts on how to move forward. He took over the starting job in Week 10 but missed two regular-season games and the team's wild-card matchup because of a calf injury.
Taylor Heinicke, who started in the wild-card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, could test the open market. Kyle Allen is set to become an exclusive rights free agent, which means Washington can retain him with a minimum tender.
If Smith decides to retire, Winston could win the starting job over Allen on pure arm talent and experience.
Even if Smith plays in the 2021 campaign, he comes with a high injury risk because of his age and his recent surgeries, though he said his calf issue isn't connected to those procedures.
Winston can sign as a 1B starter in case Smith experiences complications with his leg. He could also boost the team's 25th-ranked scoring offense while targeting wideout Terry McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas downfield.