Jameis Winston Rumors: Saints, QB 'Not Even Close' to Agreement on New Contract

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2021

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) works in the pocket against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints and Jameis Winston are reportedly not close to agreeing to a new contract as the start of free agency draws near. 

"The Saints want him back, potentially to compete or be their starting quarterback," NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said Wednesday. "It sounds like he wants to come back. They have not come close, even close, to agreeing to terms on a deal."

Winston signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Saints last offseason, taking a significant pay cut to learn under Drew Brees and Sean Payton. He played only 5 percent of the team's offensive snaps, going 7-of-11 for 75 passing yards, and the Saints chose to start Taysom Hill over Winston when Brees went down with a rib injury.

Payton told reporters last month that he'd like the Saints to re-sign Winston "sooner than later," adding:  

 "Jameis Winston, we know. We had a year with him. He was fantastic as a leader. He's got tremendous arm talent. He's a young prospect that we like a lot. When you have a player for a season, he's kind of giving you a chance to see what he's about, and there's a little bit of an audition there. But the same audition takes place for us. He's getting a chance to see, 'Hey, this is how they do it here. Does this fit me? Does this head coach, this position coach? Is this a place I feel comfortable playing?'"

While the Saints would like to bring Winston back, their cap constraints could make that difficult.

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New Orleans is currently $64.1 million over the projected 2021 cap, which will lead to the purging of several high-profile veterans from the roster. Getting under the cap will be an unenviable task in and of itself, let alone carving out enough space to sign Winston unless he's willing to make a minimal salary again in 2021.

Winston will almost certainly want a sizable raise, and he has the NFL bonafides to justify an eight-figure salary. His returning at a discount will likely require some sort of guarantee from Payton that he has the leg up on Hill in the battle to replace Brees as the Saints' starting quarterback.

Otherwise, Winston might bolt for a situation where he'll be paid more.