Sean Payton sees Jameis Winston as part of Saints' quarterback plan if Drew Brees retires

Liz Roscher
·2 min read

The New Orleans Saints are still waiting to find out if Drew Brees is going to retire or play another season, but head coach Sean Payton can’t sit around until Brees makes his decision. He has to create a plan in case Brees hangs it up, and there’s one player he already wants to be part of that plan: free-agent quarterback Jameis Winston.

On Wednesday’s “Good Morning Football,” Payton was asked what his plan would be if Brees retires. Payton immediately started talking about wanting Winston, who was one of the Saints’ backup QBs in 2020, back in the fold.

"We had a great exposure for one year with Jameis Winston. We didn't have a normal offseason, but we had enough time to see what we had with him as a player, as a leader, as an athlete. I really like what we had a chance to see. He was a tremendous leader for this team, and that's hard to do when you come in new in free agency your first year as a backup quarterback. So that'll be an important checkmark for us.

"A lot of times you want to hold your cards closer to the vest, and he is a free agent, but him along with Taysom Hill, who's in the building, we've said it all along, we're going to develop and coach those guys. Jameis is one of those guys that we have a big interest in."

Payton has sung Winston’s praises before

Payton has been high on Winston for awhile. During an interview on the “Huddle & Flow” podcast in December, he praised Winston for his locker room presence and competitiveness. He also explained why backup Taysom Hill stepped in when Brees got hurt instead of Winston: Payton gave Hill his word that he would start if Brees couldn’t.

With a new season on the horizon, all that is off the table. Payton said on “Huddle & Flow” that Winston and Hill will both have the opportunity to win the Saints’ starting job. Given Payton’s comments Wednesday, it looks like that’s still the plan, and Payton still believes that either Winston or Hill will be the organization’s next starting quarterback.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints shares a smile following their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston impressed Saints head coach Sean Payton as a backup in 2020, and Payton wants him back for 2021. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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