Jameis Winston isn’t making plans for a future outside of New Orleans just yet.
Injuries derailed Winston’s 2022 season, as he suffered fractured vertebrae which ultimately caused him to be inactive for two weeks. Even after he healed up he never returned to the field, being benched in favor of Andy Dalton and relegated to backup duties. But despite his current position, Winston is not counting himself out of the running on a New Orleans squad that has no clear option at quarterback as of yet.
“Technically I’m not a free agent just yet, I have one more year under contract,” Winston said Saturday on NFL Network during the HBCU Legacy Bowl, via Brooke Kirchhofer. “My main thing right now is making sure I just stay healthy and be ready to play. That’s the only thing that’s on my mind. I’ve got to be ready to play because when given the opportunity, I look forward to taking advantage of it.”
Winston is entering the second year of a two-year contract with the Saints, so if all stays as it is he’ll be on the roster for at least one more year. But New Orleans could release him after the new league year begins with a post-June 1st designation, saving the Saints from having to pay his non-guaranteed salary of $12.8 million. If they don’t see him being part of the QB equation in 2023, this would be the smart move as it would open up some cap space.
But possibly complicating the situation is that the Saints QB room is currently in limbo, with no indication yet of who could be the starter next season. Dalton is set to be a free agent, and the only other QB option on the New Orleans roster is Taysom Hill, though the Swiss army knife tight end didn’t start a game at the quarterback position last season.
The Saints did host QB Derek Carr on a visit earlier in the month before his release from the Raiders, but there is no guarantee that New Orleans will be his final landing spot after what is expected to be a long decision process for the free agent.
With no clear option at quarterback as of yet for the Saints moving forward, there is the chance they could decide keeping Winston for the time being is in the team’s best interest. Despite his struggles, he’s a player knowledgeable with the offense, and could give New Orleans options as they figure out what direction the team will be going in with its next signal caller.
There could be other options available on the free agent market besides Carr, or the Saints could look to bring in a new QB through the draft, in which they currently hold the No. 29 pick. But depending on how all those offseason decisions play out over the next few months, it could end up holding true that when all is said and done, there will still be a place for Winston on the Saints roster. And that’s what he’ll be planning for until he hears otherwise.