Jameis Winston is the Chris Brown of the NFL: for all his natural gifts and immense talent, the dude just can’t get out of his own damn way.
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.
As such, the dude is a perennial headache. And after inexplicably throwing 30 interceptions last season—he became the first player in NFL history to couple such a dubious distinction with 30 touchdown passes—he’s also the textbook definition of feast or famine. So when Tom Brady filed for divorce from the Patriots in March after 20 years of marital bliss, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that Winston came home to find another man in the bed and all his shit left out on the curb.
Then between free agency signings and last week’s 2020 NFL Draft, quarterback vacancies dried up throughout the league. So what is an incredibly gifted quarterback with a penchant for pick-sixes and mental errors to do? Apparently swallow his pride and backup one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, as ESPN reports that Winston has signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.
And if you let Winston tell it, the Saints provide the perfect opportunity to learn from a future Hall of Famer and get his career back on track.
“Being a part of the New Orleans Saints—being a part with Drew Brees, Taysom Hill, [head coach] Sean Payton, [quarterback’s coach] Joe Lombardi, [offensive coordinator] Pete Carmichael Jr.—when you think about that room, that’s like a Harvard education in quarterback school,” Winston said Tuesday during an appearance on “Chalk Talk” with Charlie Ward. “So I wanted to put my ego aside—put the money to the side—to think about my family, think about my career.”
He added, “And there was no better position than to be in the same room with someone that I’ve really looked up to, that I’ve admired since I’ve been playing this game, in Drew Brees.”
While I think the Steelers or Patriots would’ve provided him with a better opportunity to play this upcoming season, I sure as hell can’t fault Winston’s logic. Brees is 41 and clearly in the twilight of his career, and after filling a similar backup role with the Saints last season—and leading them to a 5-0 record in Brees’ absence—Teddy Bridgewater signed a lucrative deal with the Panthers in March. So if Winston is able to flourish, all signs point to him becoming Brees’ heir apparent.
“[Brees] is an incredible leader; he’s an incredible studier of the game how he breaks down his opponents,” Jeff Ireland, the Saints’ assistant general manager, said on the Matt Mosley Show. “And then you throw in Pete Carmichael, Joe Lombardi and Sean Payton on the offensive side of the ball, those creative minds, Jameis Winston will learn more football in a year than he has in his lifetime.”
But can Winston beat out fellow backup Taysom Hill, who just signed a new deal of his own and doesn’t habitually throw the ball to the wrong team?
Worst case scenario, Winston becomes a free agent next year and there are more opportunities available for him to play elsewhere. But considering the circumstances, this sounds like a win for all parties involved.