On Sunday, after months of speculation, Drew Brees finally called it a career after 20 years in the NFL. Per ESPN, he retires as the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing yards (80,358) and ranks second all-time in touchdown passes (571) and completion percentage (67.7%). Not bad for a dude who thinks kneeling during the national anthem is some “disrespectful” bullshit.
So with the man who revitalized the New Orleans Saints franchise no longer in the mix, what’s next for the house that Sean Payton built? We got a peculiar glimpse into the future almost immediately after Brees’ retirement when New Orleans confused the shit out of everyone by announcing a new deal with his backup, Taysom Hill.
News of the deal almost broke Twitter, as nobody could believe the Saints cashed out a glorified Tim Tebow with a four-year, $140 million deal. (I know I gagged at least twice.) But all is not as it seems, however, as Hill’s new contract is purely smoke and mirrors; it’s actually a restructuring to help New Orleans conjure up some cap space out of thin air. The entire deal is fully voidable.
I would imagine things got a little awkward on Sunday when Hill’s friends and fam heard the news about the deal and blew up his phone like, “OMG!!! $35 million a year?!?! When are we going to Maldives?!!?!” And he had to reply in the group chat with, “Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, yeah. About that...”
Soooooooooo where does that leave Jameis Winston, the supposed heir apparent to the quarterback throne? Per the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, all signs point to the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer receiving the keys to the castle.
“The Saints have had negotiations with Jameis Winston about potentially being their next quarterback, their quarterback of the future,” Rapoport said of Winston, who officially is a free agent. “While they waited for Brees, they have also moved on. Drew Brees knows that. They’ve tried to complete a deal with Jameis Winston, nothing official yet, but all the indications that I’ve received are that Winston is the likely starter in New Orleans. It’s just a matter of wrapping it up officially.”
Under Brees’ stewardship, New Orleans captured seven division titles, made it to the playoffs nine times, and beat Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV. To put into perspective how important this man is to that city before Brees came into the picture, it took the franchise 39 seasons—39 seasons!!!!—just to make the playoffs five times. So the fear and uncertainty that Saints fans have right about now are completely understandable. This fan base is traumatized.
But is Jameis the best option moving forward? Clearly, homie has his warts. His ability to recognize post-snap movement is trash, his carelessness with the ball is every offensive coordinator’s—and teammate’s—worst nightmare, and he reads the field about as well as Kanye reads the room. He also doesn’t exactly have the best reputation off the field, as I’ve touched on previously here at The Root:
As a star quarterback at Florida State, he was hounded by sexual assault allegations from an encounter that occurred in 2012 (he would settle out of court in 2016), got caught stealing crab legs from a grocery store in 2013, was suspended in 2014 for jumping on a table and barking, “Fuck her right in her pussy!” in Florida State’s Student Union, and after becoming the #1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, he was suspended for three games in 2018 after allegedly groping a female Uber driver.
But he’s mobile, his arm talent is no joke, and his pocket presence is impressive. As such, he’s the textbook definition of feast or famine, as evidenced by him becoming the first player in NFL history to somehow throw both 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season.
Yet despite his warts, he’s spent the past season at All-Pro Quarterback University, riding the bench behind Drew Brees while soaking up game as his understudy. And after spending a year buffing out his flaws and learning Sean Payton’s system, I wholeheartedly believe he gives the Saints the best option moving forward. Plus if Hill becomes the guy, he loses his utility as a running back, tight end, receiver, brick mason, longshoreman, or whatever other position the Saints have him fill.
So New Orleans, let’s not waste the people’s time. Hurry up and sign Jameis on the dotted line so that the Patriots don’t swoop in and snatch his ass up. Please and thanks in advance.