Jameis Winston reportedly turned down a more lucrative offer from the Pittsburgh Steelers so he could play behind Drew Brees in New Orleans, learning from both the future Hall of Famer and Saints coach Sean Payton.
As the USA Today’s Saints Wire reported, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter had an offer from the Steelers that was more lucrative than the one-year deal he is expected to sign with the Saints, but the ability to further develop in New Orleans was more attractive. The report claimed that Winston was impressed at how Teddy Bridgewater progressed as the backup to Brees, ultimately leading to him signing a three-year, $63 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.
The former No. 1 overall draft pick was inconsistent through his five seasons with the Buccaneers, throwing for a total of 121 touchdowns with 88 interceptions, including a league-high 30 last season. As the report noted, Winston saw the opportunity to work on his shortcomings behind Brees and in the Saints experienced quarterback room.
“The opportunity to learn from Drew Brees, Sean Payton, and Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi was something Winston couldn’t attach a dollar value to,” the report noted. “He’s a starting-quality quarterback despite the 30 interceptions he threw last year, which is just a much a product of his own poor decision-making as the offense he was running.”
Though he is expected to sign a one-year contract, Winston could also have a chance to succeed Brees as the Saints quarterback of the future if he were to make a strong enough impression. The 41-year-old Brees just avoided reaching free agency by signing a reported two-year, $50 million deal with the Saints. Though Brees comes off a season in which he threw for 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns — leading the NFL in completion percentage for the third straight year and notching a 116.3 passer rating — it is not clear if his career would continue beyond the end of his contract when he would be 43.
A report from NFL.com noted that Brees may not play out the final year of his contract, allowing Winston to use this season as something of an audition for the starting job.
“If and when Brees does leave New Orleans, perhaps at the end of the 2020 season, Winston could be the next man up. But the former No. 1 overall pick will have competition,” the report noted, adding that the Saints are also re-signing backup Taysom Hill.
The details of Winston’s expected deal are not yet clear, and neither is the reported offer from the Steelers.