Will the Saints be able to afford Jameis Winston?

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The Saints want to keep quarterback Jameis Winston. Whether they’re able to do that is a different issue.

Making the media rounds on Wednesday for Zebra Technologies, coach Sean Payton praised Winston and made it clear that the Saints want him back.

“[O]ur exposure to Jameis was fantastic,” Payton said on PFT Live. “I know he’s a free agent, but he’s someone I think we’re really excited to work with. Now, that means we’ve got work to do still. I think he feels the same way. I feel pretty good about that.”

The work they need to do relates to finding a way to put a football team on the field. According to OverTheCap.com, the Saints have the worst cap situation entering 2021. If the salary cap ends up in the range of $180 million, the Saints based on current commitments will exceed it by more than $100 million.

Of that amount, more than $22 million will count under the name “Drew Brees.” That’s the reckoning relating to the annual effort to kick the salary-cap can into future years. And the worst year for the Brees reckoning to arrive is the year when the cap shrinks.

That doesn’t mean the Saints won’t be able to work it out with Winston. But it will require some heavy financial lifting elsewhere on the roster, especially since quarterback Taysom Hill will (absent a new deal) have a cap number of $16.159 million in 2021.

That’s more than $38 million devoted to the quarterback position, without Winston under contract. That could compel the Saints to ride with Taysom Hill. Which may not be a horrible thing.

“I thought he had a fantastic season,” Payton said, regarding Hill. “Not just when he was in [the quarterback] role, but he’s one of our better football players, period. He’s explosive. There’s a physicality that he brings when he’s in the lineup, either at quarterback or running back or in a receiving mode.”

Still, Payton clearly has a high opinion of Winston.

“Everything from his leadership, his arm strength, his film in Tampa,” Payton said. “His last season, obviously he had a ton of turnovers, but there are so many things I think he does well. Often times, coaches can be guilty of [saying] ‘here’s what he doesn’t do well,’ and we harp on those things. Our job will be to really highlight and try to do the things that our players do extremely well. It’s amazing how someone can be in your division and you might think you know the player to some degree and obviously you don’t have the same intimate knowledge relative to personally learning. Then when he’s in your building, maybe how different a guy is. He was a fantastic leader for our team. Very supportive and loyal in that room. I think close with the quarterbacks. Coming in just his first year, I think he endeared himself to his teammates. He’s a tremendous worker and he’s got a ton of talent. He made a great impression on us.”

With Brees and Hill making a great impression, literally, on the team’s salary cap, keeping Winston will take some work. Especially if another team with cap space to spare decides to consider signing Jameis Winston.

51 responses to “Will the Saints be able to afford Jameis Winston?

  1. When they started Hill over Winston that tells you everything you need to know about their thoughts on Winston. Hill is probably not a legit NFL QB, but they may have no choice but to find that out for sure next year.

  2. Winston signed for 1.1 million last yr and from reports there was no bidding war and very little interest league wide so why is there an assumption after a year which he did nothing to improve his value that he will get a bigger contract?

  3. Will anyone want Winston?….
    He was available for a long time last year while many other and were being picked up so it seemed no one saw much value in him… Saints only signed him for so little.

  4. Great system/coaching for a QB. Hill is a stud athlete but he won’t get you to the Superbowl. Everyone in your division will get better next year.

  5. He’s more affordable because he didn’t play & that must’ve been the plan all along. It’s a great strategy for a team hammered by the salary cap that would never have a shot at a #1 overall QB. A year to learn the system in that QB room is nothing but a good thing.

  6. It would be best for both parties to get a deal done. If Winston finds success anywhere, it will be with NO.

    And, can the Saints really bank on Hill as a quality QB, that knows their system, for 16 games? Signing Winston, even as a backup, is smart.

  7. $100 million over! Wow!

    So this is where the weirdness of the QB market comes into play. Winston signed a small one year prove-it deal. Fine. And they hardly used him.

    The QB market right now seems to be HUGE money for starters (again – thank WFT for franchising Cousins for two years), much less for backups (even proven ones). Winston obviously won’t sign for a million a year on a long-term deal, but they’re not gonna give him $30+ million a year, either.

    Maybe the pandemic was just what the NFL needed to have a market correction on QB salaries? Because besides the dollar amounts there’s also this asinine concept that every deal has to top the previous one. There needs to be a middle ground, and not every QB contract deserves to be higher than the last one, and not every starter should be paid $35/40/45 million per.

    If the Saints could sign Winston for ~$15 million a year for two years that would be around the right value for him, I think. Two years gives him enough time to prove his worth and earn a higher salary. Even that contract fully-guaranteed would be a good value. Though I still think he’s a turnover machine. That’s what he was in college and the NFL hasn’t proven any different. Talented, yes, but INT-prone.

  8. Winston turns the ball over way too often but he also generates more offensive production than most other starting/backup QBs in the league. He’ll get a better offer this year than he got last year.

  9. jm91rs says:
    February 4, 2021 at 9:51 am
    When they started Hill over Winston that tells you everything you need to know about their thoughts on Winston. Hill is probably not a legit NFL QB, but they may have no choice but to find that out for sure next year.
    —————————————————————————————
    This actually isn’t true. Hill signed a 2yr 22 million contract before the season started. Sean Payton and the boys had to justify giving him that kind of money somehow, and that’s the only way they could. If we’re being completely honest, most Saints players weren’t happy with the decision. There’s a reason why Winston will most likely be the starter once Brees calls it.

  10. They cannot possibly afford to keep TWO high-priced backups. Hill making $16 million to stand around 95% of the time when Brees is healthy would be absurd. They’ve got to find a way to restructure that. And given how good ALL their QBs have looked in recent years I don’t see why they’d need to commit large dollars to any backup. There’s always somebody left without a chair who can be cheaply signed for a year or so.

  11. If it’s a rebuilding year I guess go all-in. Get what you can for Thomas and Hill if you can get Winston cheaper. Tell Brees it’s time to go already.

  12. Sunday Swami says:
    February 4, 2021 at 9:58 am
    Winston signed for 1.1 million last yr and from reports there was no bidding war and very little interest league wide so why is there an assumption after a year which he did nothing to improve his value that he will get a bigger contract?
    ——————————————————————————————
    Couple of reasons . First there are more QB needy teams this year then last year . Secondly the year he spent under Payton’s watch is looked at as a positive by others in the NFL by getting Winston to play more consistent with less interceptions , the issues he had in Tampa Bay .

  13. Taysom Hill is Tim Tebow. Better be prepared to win a lot of games 12-10. Beef up that defense, Sean and make sure you have a great field goal kicker. You’re going to need it.

  14. He’s the millennial Jay Cutler. He’ll make throws that take your breath away. But then, he’ll make throws that take your breath away. Trust in your QB is everything and there just hasn’t been enough “good Jameis” to justify franchise QB status and pay.

  15. First of all, they will have to restructure Hill’s contract. A $16 mil cap hit is way too much for this player. They can make it happen by restructuring a few more. The interesting thing what they will do with Cam Jordan. Production is decreasing and still doesn’t show up in the playoffs…..

  16. My Saints are always in bad cap standings and Loomis always finds a way to make it happen! If we’re not able to afford Winston I think we’ll be fine when Hill gets an entire offseason/camp to prepare as the #1. We’ll be fine, it’s the NFL and Refs that scare me the most.

  17. I can’t imagine there will be much of a market for Winston anyway. He threw for a whopping 75 yards last year.

  18. youngnoize says:
    Hill signed a 2yr 22 million contract before the season started. Sean Payton and the boys had to justify giving him that kind of money somehow, and that’s the only way they could. If we’re being completely honest, most Saints players weren’t happy with the decision. There’s a reason why Winston will most likely be the starter once Brees calls it.
    ==

    If the Saints started Taysom Hill in the handful of games Drew Brees missed only because they just signed him to a two-year deal and felt the need to justify it, it stands to reason they’d still need to justify it considering he started so few games, and Winston did next to nothing in the scant number of snaps he took.
    Hill is already under contract, one that pays him a fair amount of money. Jameis Winston is NOT currently under contract. The Saints are well over a salary cap that will drop by as much as 20 million in 2021. Brees will count for a $22 million cap hit even if he isn’t on the team.
    Whether Saints players were upset (according to you, anyway) is irrelevant. Economics alone render the likelihood of Winston even being on the team, let alone as the starter, as slim at best.
    Winston will be the starter only if he gets zero interest from other teams, swallows his pride and signs another dirt-cheap one-year deal, and Hill either gets hurt of completely flops.

  19. If they really do lower the cap next year, the nfl is going to be unwatchable and a lot of players are going to be at home watching it. The other issue is going to be in acouple years when 90% of the league is cap hell because they did so many restructurings this offseason.

    The billionaire owners may just have to bite the bullet and eat this year.

  20. If a gimmick player like Taysom Hill counts 16 million towards your cap then you deserve to be in cap hell.

  21. If we’re not able to afford Winston I think we’ll be fine when Hill gets an entire offseason/camp to prepare as the #1.
    ________________________________________

    So, you actually think the Saints will be fine with Hill as the starting QB if he has an entire offseason to prepare? What do you think the other teams will do in preparing for Hill? You really think this QB can rally this team (as a hypothetical) back from a double digit lead in the 4th quarter? Hill will not get this team to at least 11 wins and a championship run. He’s a gadget player at best. Your last sentence makes absolutely no sense…..

  22. Brees said it’s his team now. So he’ll retire as long as the team honors his wishes to turn the reins over to a QB who can throw more than 3 yards in the air and isn’t a gadget player. They’ll probably have some Taysom packages and gimmicks with both of them on the field.

  23. Yes,Saints are a projected 100 million over the cap but will manage to get enough space to keep Winston.

    People seem to not realize that even if a players contact averages 30 million a year (obviously Jameis isn’t going to get that) doesn’t mean he has to get 30 million every year. The saints in theory can have Winston 2021 cap hit be 10 million while giving him a signing bonus and have his salary increase in the following seasons.

    Not saying the Saints will do this but they have shown they are not afraid to kick the can down the road.

  24. One thing this article fails to address is the massive issues the Saints are going to have to get under the cap. It isn’t as easy as just cutting 6-7 guys to get under, as most of their players’ deals have been restructured over the last few years, so even if multiple guys are released there is still a significant dead cap hit that reduces the savings. There will be a large roster purge, no question.

  25. Most teams can’t afford 36 turnovers from one player in a season, no matter how good the rest of the team is. Comparing the last 2 Bucs seasons proves that.

  26. Taysom Hill isn’t a top 20 player at any position. And I am being extremely generous and nice on that assessment. $16 mil for a guy that you’re hoping will “surprise” the defense at multiple positions. I’d love to see Hill be the full time starter at QB. It will not be pretty.

  27. This guy has nine lives. From getting into trouble a couple of times, getting traded or let go for a million interceptions to going to a contender waiting out the incumbent and taking over a top team. Wow I want to know what stocks he is investing in, im in.

  28. Saints will have to get clear the 100 million anyway so of course they can sign him.

    Sign him to a 4 year, 72 million dollar deal, 20 million signing bonus with 38 million total guaranteed at signing:

    Year 1: Cap hit 6 mil
    Year 2: Cap hit 22 mil
    Year 3: Cap hit 24 mil (only 10 guaranteed)
    Year 4: Cap hit 20 million (only 5 guaranteed)

    Just like that they have the money and only have to free up 6 mil more for him.

    Obviously he may find a better offer but the idea that Saints can’t get him back is ridiculous. I just did a basic contract and I’m pretty sure there are plenty of tricks Saints can do that I have no knowledge of.

    To make it look nicer the Saints could make it 4 for 100 million with same bonuses and make the 4th years cap larger. It wouldn’t matter because still only 5 million will be guaranteed.

  29. He will be on the move. The man was an NFL starter for 4 years, and led the league in passing yardage, and was second in TD’s in 2019. The picks? Sure, that will be different with a scheme change. You really don’t think there will be a backup job next year for $5 mil? There are lesser talented backups making a lot more. The guy wants a chance to be a starter. He took a discount to watch how a pro operates. The pro is gone. Payton is just sweet talking him into another minimum wage job.

  30. Lots of Taysom Hill haters in the house. He’s the only guy in the league who’s doing what he does. How do you place a value on that and who are you to say he’s over paid?

    Talk to me when your backup QB blocks a punt, returns a kick, plays TE/WR/RB and is the best ST gunner on your team.

  31. I think they will be able to afford him because he and his agent will make sure he is affordable to them.

    His choice looks to me like either starting for one of the best-quality teams in the NFL or being a backup at best anywhere else. Hard to think of a team that would make a play for him as a starter right now, and starting for the Saints is probably the best possible way for him to quickly build his image and value.

  32. flboy84 says:
    February 4, 2021 at 1:20 pm
    One thing this article fails to address is the massive issues the Saints are going to have to get under the cap. It isn’t as easy as just cutting 6-7 guys to get under, as most of their players’ deals have been restructured over the last few years, so even if multiple guys are released there is still a significant dead cap hit that reduces the savings. There will be a large roster purge, no question.

    ____________

    Spot on! I have been looking at their cap situation, and their are a few no brainers. Alexander is gone for a $13 mil savings. Latimore and Ramcyzk get reworked deals for a $20 mil savings. The shocker might be Michael Thomas on the move. A post June 1 trade would save almost $13 mil in cap space, with only $6 mil in dead money this year. I think you could find a trade partner willing to take his contract on for 4 years averaging about $15 mil a year. Another June 1 trade of Janoris Jenkins would save another $11 mil.
    So, there’s a quick $57 mil gone.

  33. TG1 says:
    February 4, 2021 at 2:12 pm
    Saints will have to get clear the 100 million anyway so of course they can sign him.

    Sign him to a 4 year, 72 million dollar deal, 20 million signing bonus with 38 million total guaranteed at signing:

    Year 1: Cap hit 6 mil
    Year 2: Cap hit 22 mil
    Year 3: Cap hit 24 mil (only 10 guaranteed)
    Year 4: Cap hit 20 million (only 5 guaranteed)

    Just like that they have the money and only have to free up 6 mil more for him.
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Now they would have to not only free up $100 million, but whatever additional money they would sign him for next season.

  34. Christopher Allan you can’t possibly think the Saints will only free up the money to be just under the cap. Saints still will have to sign their rookie class and fill the roster.

    They have to get under the cap to start the league year. They will certainly look to clear enough to field a team afterward.

    The question asked if the Saints could afford Jameis and I just showed a scenario in which they can. They may choose not to but the idea that they won’t be able to afford him is ridiculous.

  35. Jameis Winston 2018 28 Td’s and 18 ints Career 129 TD’s & 88 Ints.

    Arians threw him under the bus with chuck and duck in 2019.

    Peyton Manning threw 29 Int’s and Brett Favre 28 one season.

  36. 1) Winston was coming off a 30-INT season last year. That likely caused many potential suitors to avoid him, and now that that season is a year removed, teams should and will be reminded by his potential.
    2) It’s really simple why Winston didn’t start when Brees was injured; Payton had already promised Hill, who has been loyal to the Saints and is seen by them as legitimately talented, that he’d get the job. It’s not an indictment on Winston.
    3) Yes, they can afford him. There will be some cap casualties, but there isn’t going to be a dramatic rebuild and collapse of the Saints’ core of players. If they want Winston back, they’ll get him.

  37. As it sits right now there are 15 teams over the cap for 2021 already with the Saints being the highest followed by the Eagles, Falcons, Steelers, Packers and Rams. Also the Chiefs are sitting at $26.1mil over the cap for 2021 so they’re going to have to unload some of their best talent to get down to the cap, getting rid of bottom level players won’t help them out enough.

    If they win this year that Dynasty they’re bragging about is probably over at least for a few years! Going to be fun just watching what teams do to get under the cap for the upcoming season, but some teams are sitting pretty for 2021 like the Jags, Colts, Jets & Pats all with over $58mil in cap space so it could be a changing of the guard next season, it’s going be interesting to watch this all play out.

  38. JW sucks!!! He was with Tampa bay for 5 years couldn’t get it done. They get rid of him bring in Brady and his FIRST year Super Bowl. Tired of people propping this guy up and making excuses for him!! He is a bust!

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