Mon, Mar 15, 2021
By Jim Vassallo (Veri.bet Writer)
The New Orleans Saints have a massive void at quarterback heading into the 2021 season with the retirement of future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees. Brees announced his retirement via Instagram on Sunday, March 14.
Right now, the Saints have Taysom Hill under contract. Their third-string quarterback, Jameis Winston, is a free agent but the Saints would like to bring him back for the 2021 season.
Hill is only under contract for one more season. However, he restructured his deal on Sunday to include four voidable years (automatic) for a total of $140 million. The restructuring did not add more money or years to the deal. It was strictly done for salary cap purposes.
There’s no guarantee that Winston will re-sign with the Saints, or that Hill will wind up being the starter come September. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Sean Payton goes with a player not currently on the roster under center.
Will Russell Wilson be made available by the Seattle Seahawks? If so, the Saints should be the first team to place a call on the mobile quarterback. Or, the Saints could trade up in the NFL Draft from their current slot at 28th to take a top-five quarterback.
Hill went 3-1 as the starter in 2020 when Brees was out with an injury. His play and the team’s record during his time as the starter did not remove him from the conversation going forward, nor did it secure him the position.
In his four starts, Hill completed 71.9 percent of his passes for 834 yards and four touchdowns. He threw two interceptions. He fumbled 10 times, losing five of them in 2020. His ball-handling skills and decision-making will need to improve for him to secure the starting spot long-term with the Saints.
Winston is also not out of the question as the 2021 starter at quarterback. Head Coach Sean Payton made it abundantly clear that the organization wants to re-sign Winston after he spent the 2020 season as a backup to Brees and Hill.
Winston threw a 56-yard touchdown pass on a trick play in the Saints playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Winston’s former team. Payton has been enamored with Winston, saying he has “tremendous arm talent” and has called the quarterback “fantastic as a leader.”
Aside from Hill and Winston, the Saints could pull off a blockbuster trade for a quarterback. In fact, the agent for Wilson has identified New Orleans as a preferred destination should he be traded by the Seahawks. If Deshaun Watson is made available by the Houston Texans, the Saints would make a play for him too.
The Saints currently sit $60 million over the salary cap and would likely have to release or trade a slew of starters in order to acquire Wilson or Watson, but the team is willing to do it to bring in an elite quarterback.
Outside of a trade, the Saints could attempt to move up the draft board from 28 to select a quarterback, which would cost them a pretty penny. They could get lucky with a quarterback in the second round after using the 28th pick on a different area of need.