Report: Jameis Winston Named Saints' Starting QB for Week 1 over Taysom Hill

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2021

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints shares a smile as he greets teammate quarterback Taysom Hill #7 during the second half of their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints reportedly selected Jameis Winston as their starting quarterback for Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers following a competition with Taysom Hill throughout training camp and the preseason. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the news Friday.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Saints players were spotted yesterday congratulating Jameis Winston, who locked up the job with a strong performance during Monday night’s preseason win over the Jaguars.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Jameis Winston has up to $7M available via incentives this season, tied to a variety of factors including playing time, passing statistics and team success. His path to reach those various incentives became clearer today.

Drew Brees, who'd filled the Saints' starting role since 2006, announced his retirement in March at the age of 42.

The two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, who led New Orleans to the Super Bowl XLIV title at the end of the 2009 campaign, left a massive void after throwing for over 68,000 yards with 491 touchdown passes in 228 regular-season appearances across 15 years with the franchise.

Winston signed with the Saints in April 2020 to serve as Brees' backup last season, which allowed Hill to remain in the multifaceted playmaker role he'd filled throughout his tenure.

When the future Hall of Famer suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung in November, the coaching staff gave Hill his first stint as a starting quarterback. He compiled four passing touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns and two interceptions en route to a 3-1 record.

Winston re-signed with New Orleans in March, pitting himself against Hill to determine the full-time successor to Brees.

Both quarterbacks maintained throughout the process it was a friendly competition with a focus on internal improvement rather than outdoing the other guy.

"I love working with Jameis, he works really hard. I think he's really smart," Hill said Aug. 1. "He has got a lot of experience playing the position."

Winston explained Aug. 19 working alongside a "high-level competitor" like Hill tends to "make you better naturally":

"I think we are just great teammates. The main thing at the quarterback position, everyone in that quarterback room, our main focus is to win and protect the football. That's the only thing that we really think about. So we're constantly, consistently trying to help each other with that, especially the winning part. So as long as we are they doing our job, like it doesn't matter who's in or who's not. It's about this team more than it is about us individually."

The competition continued deep into the preseason as neither quarterback could distance himself during the early stages of camp, but Winston's strong showing in the second exhibition contest gave him the upper hand.

Winston was the presumed favorite coming into the season, given his five years of experience leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense. While he was mistake-prone with the Bucs, he's also got the arm talent to make any NFL throw, which gives him plenty of upside within the Saints' scheme.

In his last season with Tampa (2019), he became the first quarterback in NFL history to record at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season. It was the epitome of his boom-or-bust style, and New Orleans will hope he can at least cut down a bit on the errors in 2021.

Meanwhile, picking Winston as the starter for the Sept. 12 clash with Green Bay frees up Hill to return to his previous role of doing a little bit of everything for the Saints' offense. That'll likely include some QB snaps, particularly in short-yardage situations and on trick plays.