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Best quarterback options for the Saints heading into the 2021 season

Who will the New Orleans Saints choose to be the successor to Drew Brees?

Houston Texans v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Drew Brees has likely played his final game for the New Orleans Saints, leaving the quarterback position up for grabs for the first time since Brees signed with the team back in 2006. There are many options out there for New Orleans to fill their now vacant quarterback position, ranging from players we have already seen start for the Saints, to a splash trade that would make the Saints instant Super Bowl contenders. The NFL Draft could also present opportunities for them to find their next franchise QB, or just to foster an open competition come training camp.

No matter what route they choose, the Saints still have one of the best rosters in the NFL, and have managed to go 8-2 in games Brees has missed due to injury since 2006, so it is likely they will remain playoff contenders in the near future. If they are to still be in the conversation for Super Bowl contenders however, I believe they are going to have to make a trade or hit on a draft pick within the next two years. So lets examine a list of potential successors to Brees, and how exactly the Saints would acquire them.


In-house candidates

NFL: DEC 06 Saints at Falcons Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Taysom Hill

Taysom Hill is one of only four quarterbacks to start a game for the Saints since 2006 not named Drew Brees. We know he has the endorsement of head coach Sean Payton, and a familiarity with the offense. He managed to go 3-1 in his four starts in 2020, but these wins came against a reeling Atlanta Falcons team, and a team that literally didn’t have a quarterback in the Denver Broncos.

I am not sure based on what I saw this season that Taysom Hill can quarterback this team to a Super Bowl, but if no other options present themselves in the offseason, he would be the cheapest option for the Saints in 2021. He is already under contract through this season, and has the most familiarity with the offense out of any potential candidate. The only worry with Hill would be is he good enough to win a championship with? Because the rest of the roster certainly is.

Divisional Round - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Jameis Winston

Other than a 56-yard touchdown pass, Jameis Winston will go into 2021 with few highlights in his first season as a Saint. This could be a good thing for the Saints front office if they aim to have Winston be their starting quarterback in 2021. Teddy Bridgewater started and won five games for the Saints last season, which led him to sign a three-year, $63 million contract with the Carolina Panthers. Winston is unlikely to earn a similar contract from any team other than the Saints, as his 30 interception season is still the freshest in the minds of general managers around the NFL.

However, if I were Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton, I would be more willing to roll the dice on Jameis than Taysom Hill. It is easy to forget that Jameis also threw for over 5,000 yards and 33 TDs in 2019 in addition to the 30 interceptions. He has shown that he is a better passer than Hill, and if he is able to play a full season in a methodical and less risky offense like the Saints, I believe his interception numbers will fall significantly. I am not sure if Jameis is good enough to lead this team to a Super Bowl, but I believe he definitely gives them a better chance than Taysom Hill.

Winston will need to be re-signed, as he is currently on a one-year deal that will make him a free agent this off-season. Unless Winston feels slighted by being passed over for the starting job when Brees was out, I feel the Saints easily have the best chance to earn Winston’s services if they want them for the 2021 season.

Contract offer: 3-years, $35 million


Potential Trade Targets

Houston Texans v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson is clearly on his way out of Houston, as it has been reported that he isn’t even returning calls from the Texans anymore. The Texans are arguably the worst run franchise in the NFL currently, as CEO Cal McNair and Vice President Jack Easterby have seemingly alienated the entire team.

Watson led the league in passing this season, and is among the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. He is still very young and is a terrific runner in addition to being a top tier passer.

The Texans would expect a huge haul in return for Watson, as his value has never been higher than it is now coming off a career year. The Saints would have to give up multiple picks and multiple starters to entice the Texans to ship him off to New Orleans. Our own Matthew Terry wrote about potential trade scenarios for Watson that you can check out here.

Marshon Lattimore and Michael Thomas are the names that I believe would be offered in a potential trade with the Texans. Other players like Marcus Davenport, Andrus Peat, and Ryan Ramczyk would also be enticing to the Texans. The only thing in the way of a potential trade for Watson would be that other teams, namely the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, could offer more enticing trades to the Texans. They hold the second and third picks in the draft, which would allow the Texans to potentially draft their next franchise QB in Justin Fields or Zach Wilson. A package of a top-three pick to go along with additional first-round picks and solid players would likely be better than anything the Saints could offer, but the way the Texans have been run in recent years, nothing they do would surprise me.

For more on Deshaun Watson, check out this article by our own Andrew Bell.

Trade:

Houston receives: 2021 1st round pick/2022 1st round pick/2022 2nd round pick/Michael Thomas/Marcus Davenport/Andrus Peat

New Orleans receives: Deshaun Watson/2021 4th round pick

Jacksonville Jaguars v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Gardner Minshew

With Trevor Lawrence on his way to Jacksonville, the Jaguars now have no need for any more “Minshew Magic.” Minshew has been a good QB in a terrible situation, who was able to win the Jags only game this season and managed to win six games last year with a roster that was not much better than this year’s 1-15 squad.

Minshew completed 66% of his passes while throwing for 16 TDs and only 5 INTs with a 95.9 QB rating, the highest of all time for a QB who started 8-plus games on a 15-plus loss team. Minshew is an accurate passer who is still young and will come cheap if the Saints are unable to retain Jameis Winston and don’t feel comfortable going forward with Taysom Hill. If the Jags are comfortable moving forward with Mike Glennon as their backup, I feel Minshew would be a decent quarterback the Saints could bring in without giving up much draft capital.

Trade:

Jacksonville receives: 2021 4th round pick

New Orleans receives: Gardner Minshew


Potential draft picks

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Mac Jones

Fresh off a winning a national championship, Alabama QB Mac Jones enters the NFL draft as a potential first-round draft pick after being an NFL afterthought following the 2019 season. Jones was a Heisman finalist and ranked either first or second in nearly every major passing category. He is not currently thought to be one of the top four QBs in this draft, but he could wind up having a very good career if he goes to a well run team with a talented roster like the Saints.

The Saints currently hold the 28th pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and would most likely have to trade up a few spots in order to draft Jones. With Philip Rivers retiring on Wednesday, the Indianapolis Colts are now in need of a quarterback, and could look to draft Jones with the 21st pick.

If the Colts do not find a new quarterback before the draft, the Saints would likely have to make a trade with the Bears to acquire the 20th pick if Jones is to be the next QB in New Orleans. It is also possible that Jones is gone before the 21st pick, as QB needy teams such as the Washington Football Team and the New England Patriots could take Jones with the 19th or 15th picks respectively, but I do not see much of a chance he lasts until the 28th pick.

Trade:

Chicago receives: 28th pick/2021 3rd round pick

New Orleans receives: 20th pick

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Florida v Oklahoma Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kyle Trask

Another Heisman finalist the Saints could look to draft would be Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. Trask would likely be available at 28 meaning the Saints would not have to make any trades in order to acquire him. If the Saints are still in need of a quarterback come draft day, and are unable to trade up for Mac Jones, I believe Trask would be their best option going forward. He, like Jones, finished in the top two in every major passing category in 2020, having arguably the best passing season in school history.

Taking Trask with the 28th pick could be seen as a bit of a reach, but I doubt he will still be available when the Saints pick in the 2nd round with the 60th overall pick. I would only be in favor of taking Trask at 28 if there are no better options, as the Saints would be better served to address the quarterback position before the draft in order to fill other holes on the roster come April.


Free agent targets

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tyrod Taylor

Taylor’s season was derailed by an injury he sustained at the hands of the Chargers training staff in 2020. He then lost his job to rookie Justin Herbert, but will be a free agent this offseason and will likely get another shot with a new team. That team could be the Saints if they are unable to retain Jameis Winston or make a trade.

Taylor led the Bills to the playoffs the last time he was a full-time starter, and was good enough in camp to be named the starter over the potential rookie of the year in Justin Herbert. He is 31-years-old so he is by no means a long term solution, but I believe he has enough left to be a good bridge QB and mentor if the Saints draft a QB in the 2021 draft that they feel might have some upside.

Contract offer: 2-years $9 million

Miami Dolphins v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick

“Fitzmagic” proved once again that he is the ultimate relief pitcher in the NFL, completing 68% of his passes for a QB rating of 95.6 in nine appearances and seven starts for the Dolphins. His last full season as a starter was in 2015 for the Jets, a season in which he threw for 3,900 yards and 31 touchdowns and led the Jets to a 10-6 record Like Taylor, he is by no means a long term solution, but if no other options are available, Fitzpatrick should be fairly easy to acquire if he desires to play for his potential ninth team in the New Orleans Saints.

Contract offer: 1-year $3.5 million

The last time the Saints had uncertainty at the quarterback position, Jamies Winton and Deshaun Watson were not even in high school yet. Drew Brees provided stability and greatness at the most important position in all of sports for 15 years, but now, the Saints will have to work hard to find a worthy successor.

My gut feeling is that it will be either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston quarterbacking the Saints for the next few years, with a potential draft pick coming in the next 2-4 years to be the next long term solution. However they find their next QB, it will be imperative that they keep the rest of the roster in tact if they are to remain among the NFL’s best, and to also give the next QB their best chance to have the same kind of success Brees enjoyed in his illustrious career in New Orleans.

Poll

Who do you think will be the Saints QB in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Jameis Winston
    (2975 votes)
  • 20%
    Taysom Hill
    (1459 votes)
  • 21%
    Deshaun Watson
    (1549 votes)
  • 3%
    Gardner Minshew
    (214 votes)
  • 9%
    Draft pick (Jones, Trask, or other)
    (698 votes)
  • 2%
    Free agent signing (Taylor, Fitzpatrick, or other)
    (194 votes)
7089 votes total Vote Now

Who do you think the Saints next quarterback will be? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Twitter @SaintsCSC, on Instagram at @SaintsCSC, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter at @HaydenReel.