In our way-too-early roster prediction series, we break down who’s a lock, who’s not, and who could step up and make the roster at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.
Let the Quarterback Competition Begin
Head Coach Sean Payton’s stance has always been that there will be a QB battle this training camp for the starter’s role. While on paper this seems like a lopsided affair, Payton likes aspects that each quarterback brings to the table. Jameis Winston is the younger, yet more experienced quarterback as he has started 70 games in his career, has over 19,000 career passing yards, and 121 touchdowns. Winston comes with a big time arm and brings the threat of the deep pass which has not been relied upon from this offense the past couple of seasons. No one can deny his talent, but critics have often pointed to decision-making as his achilles heel. In that same time frame, Winston has also thrown 88 interceptions and has been credited with 50 fumbles.
The guy who he is competing against in Taysom Hill is three years his senior, but has far less experience at the quarterback position. Hill has only started a grand total of four games at the QB spot and has thrown four total touchdowns in his career. However, it’s Hill’s versatility as jack of all trades player that intrigues Payton the most. He hinted to this fact as he elected to start Hill over Winston last season after Drew Brees went down went with broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Hill went on to start the next four games going 3-1 in that stint showing he was capable at times in that capacity. He averaged 209 yards passing and a 71% completion rate. Obviously with both guys competing for that top spot, they both are locks to make the roster.
Most were surprised when the Saints went and grabbed Ian Book in the fourth round. Many considered the Saints still had a need for another wide receiver or maybe defensive tackle. While a lot of fans were scratching their head over the pick, there is a method to the madness here. The aforementioned quarterbacks vying for the starter roles are not locks to be in the Saints’ future plans. Winston only signed a one-year prove it deal with the Saints and while Taysom Hill’s “four-year, $140 million deal” seems like security for the future, reading into the language of the contract with the three voidable years is no more than a one-year deal as well.
Bringing in a rookie to now sit and watch the offense could prove beneficial for future plans the Saints may have at quarterback. Book comes with some cache of his own. He is the all-time wins leader at Notre Dame and has a 30-5 record as a starter. He’s accurate with the football and not prone to turnovers. His highest interception season was his sophomore year when he only had seven. Being able to sit and watch a mastermind like Sean Payton can potentially do wonders for a young quarterback. Ian Book is definitely making this roster.
As of writing this, only Trevor Siemian is left besides the three quarterbacks mentioned above. Siemian is a journeyman of sorts as this is his fourth team in six seasons. He was signed by the Saints as insurance after Brees’ injury last season but then was waived before the playoffs. The Saints brought him back in January on a Future/Reserve contract which promises him a spot in camp. Since the CBA now allows 12 players on the practice squad instead of 10, and with Taysom Hill’s role on this team to play multiple positions, I can see Siemian finding his way to the practice squad this season if eligible.