Since becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Jameis Winston has completed 1,563 passes. While 121 of those passes have gone for touchdowns, a staggering number of those completions have ended up in the hands of the defense. The erratic quarterback watched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make Tom Brady the new face of the franchise thanks in large part to his propensity for throwing the ball to the other team. As a former top draft pick with tons of ability and glaring issues, Winston surprisingly didn’t make much noise in free agency. That is until the New Orleans Saints stepped in.
While Winston may not be the successor to Drew Brees, he does have some familiarity with the NFC South juggernaut. Ironically, Jameis Winston has completed more passes to Saints players than New Orleans backup Taysom Hill.
Jameis Winston was a turnover machine in Tampa
Never short on talent, Jameis Winston parlayed a highly successful Seminoles career into a No. 1 draft selection just five years ago. Showing off a strong arm and deceptive mobility, the 6-foot-4, 231-pound signal-caller had all the physical tools to become the Buccaneers’ franchise quarterback. As a rookie, he threw for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns. However, he also threw 15 interceptions and fumbled six times while leading Tampa to a 6-10 record.
To call Winston a turnover machine would be a massive understatement. For all of his physical gifts, the strong-armed quarterback gifted way too many opportunities to opposing defenses. Despite playing with a talented cast of weapons that included former first-round pick Mike Evans, Winston routinely turned the ball over throughout his five-year Bucs tenure.
After missing 10 starts due to injuries, he didn’t miss a game in 2019. Unfortunately, not even Bruce Arians could correct Winston’s fatal flaw. Incredibly, the 25-year-old led the NFL in passing yards (5,109) and interceptions (30). Winston’s strange season made him the first quarterback in NFL history to become part of the 30-30 club. Unlike baseball, it’s not exactly a record to be proud of.
Saints signed former No. 1 pick to a one-year deal
With TB12 taking over Tampa, Winston’s free-agent market never materialized. Though he seemed like a logical fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a great insurance policy for Ben Roethlisberger, that marriage never seemed to get past the dating phase. Teams opted to address starting quarterback vacancies through the 2020 NFL draft, leaving Winston jobless.
That all changed once the draft ended. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports dropped this bombshell on the NFL community:
The Winston deal still finally became official on Tuesday, and the agreement will give the Saints a talented backup to Brees in 2020. At the same time, the one-year deal gives Winston plenty of incentive to immerse himself in Sean Payton’s system and rehab his value for the 2021 offseason.
Taysom Hill and Winston provide an interesting backup duo
With both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill in the fold, the Saints have two talented backups with unique skill sets. Winston is a prototypical quarterback with the size, arm strength and resume to potentially outgrow his bad habits with the right coaching and system. Hill doesn’t have any track record to suggest he can ascend to franchise quarterback status, but the Saints paid him handsomely to potentially take over for Brees in 2021. Ironically, despite spending his entire career with the Buccaneers, Winston has much more familiarity completing passes to Saints players than Hill, who has been in New Orleans since 2017.
That stat reflects poorly on Winston and also brings about major questions about Hill’s chances of suddenly becoming a franchise quarterback. How both quarterbacks develop over the next year will be fascinating to watch. Perhaps a change of scenery will do Jameis Winston well. Either way, the next time he completes a pass to a Saints player, he’ll actually be doing something right.