The New Orleans Saints have reportedly come to terms with Jameis Winston. Winston supposedly received a two-year contract worth $28 million from the Saints. The Saints were one of the teams that tried to trade for Deshaun Watson. After Watson chose to go to the Cleveland Browns, the Saints likely turned their full attention to Winston. Fortunately for the Saints, Winston did not seem bothered by the Saints failed pursuit of Watson. Winston will immediately anchor a Saints offense that struggled much of the 2021 season after his knee injury.
Saints Still Focused on Winning
The Saints had yet to make any significant move this off-season. After the departure of Sean Payton, it was unknown the kind of direction the team would move in. Dennis Allen was promoted to head coach and most assistant coaches stayed in place. This signaled a similar approach to the upcoming season but there were still many unknowns. The Saints have been focused on winning now, instead of building towards a draft or future years, most of the past 15 seasons. After a slow off-season so far, the Saints could have looked to the draft for their future quarterback and taken a couple of years to rebuild. The re-signing of Winston, and other players this off-season, show that the Saints are not ready to become afterthoughts in the NFC.
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The quarterback moves this off-season have been abundant. These moves have made the NFC an easier championship path than the AFC for the upcoming season. On the same day that Winston inked his new deal with the Saints, Matt Ryan was traded from the Atlanta Falcons to the Indianapolis Colts. Russell Wilson also left the NFC this off-season, being traded to the Denver Broncos. Ryan and Wilson were two of the better quarterbacks left in the NFC, and now they leave plenty of room for other teams to immediately contend. It could likely be argued that Winston is already a top-five quarterback in the NFC, even coming off of injury.
NFC South More Winnable This Season
The NFC South might be winnable again this season for the Saints. The Carolina Panthers were all-in for Deshaun Watson but were unable to come to an agreement with the maligned quarterback. Tom Brady initially retired but returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, likely after seeing top talent flee the NFC for the AFC. The Buccaneers are still set to lose several free agents, as they had over 20 key contributors without a contract for next season. There are rumors that the Falcons could be after Marcus Mariotta, which is not an upgrade over Matt Ryan currently. The Falcons have also lost talent this off-season and been in salary cap issues. The other three NFC South teams have likely gotten worse, not better, this off-season. With a top-five defense returning, and Winston back under center, the Saints can immediately contend for the division.