Jameis Winston's surprisingly long free agency period may be coming to an end, though not with a starting role.
The Saints are close to signing a team-friendly, one-year deal with the former No. 1 overall pick, per a report from Yahoo Sports. Despite Winston's likely preference to sign on somewhere as a starter, the move makes sense for him: He had little traction for a starting job considering the strong free agency class and the fact he led the league in turnovers in 2019 (30 interceptions, five fumbles). Considering he reportedly turned down a more lucrative deal from the Steelers, he may also be hoping to replicate Teddy Bridgewater's career resurgence in New Orleans.
For the Saints, adding Winston adds depth to the quarterback room. If New Orleans does sign him, however, it brings into question Taysom Hill's role in the offense post-2020 — especially with the potential retirement of Drew Brees.
Saints coach Sean Payton has continually backed the versatile Hill as the Saints' quarterback of the future, which was further supported by the fact the Saints signed him to a two-year deal worth $21 million on Sunday.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 26, 2020
Per Yahoo Sports, Winston may serve as a contingency plan in 2020 in case Hill is hurt. Winston would allow the Saints to continue using Hill in his FLEX role without worrying about him getting injured; Winston could simply step fully into the traditional backup role should that occur. As it stands now, the understanding is that Winston, at best, will battle Hill to be backup to Brees in 2020.
It's also worth noting this potential move comes after the NFL Draft, when most teams have seemingly finalized what their quarterback situations look like. The Saints traded up to draft Mississippi State's Tommy Stevens in the sixth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, giving the team a little more depth — and potential for competition.
That was almost certainly a factor for Winston, who likely wants to become a starting quarterback again sooner rather than later. Whether that comes with another team or at the detriment of Hill remains to be seen.