New Orleans quarterback Jameis Winston is likely looking for a new home for the 2021 season. The Saints are planning to move on from Drew Brees and all signs point to Taysom Hill being next in line. If that’s the case, what happens to Winston? Here are three of the top options for Jameis Winston in free agency, and what you might expect from him if he does.
Where will Jameis Winston land in free agency in 2021?
Long-shot option — New England Patriots
First on the list of possible landing spots for Jamies Winston in free agency is the New England Patriots. Clearly, the Patriots are in dire need of a starting quarterback. Veteran QB Cam Newton basically played himself out of the role this year. Bill Belichick is getting up there at 68 years old, but he will want to leave on top. I expect the Patriots to reload again this offseason to make another playoff push, and Winston could definitely help them do that.
If the Patriots do end up signing Jameis Winston in 2021, they’ll be inheriting one of the most turnover-happy quarterbacks in the league. Winston notoriously threw 30 interceptions with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. Belichick won’t stand for that. Winston will need to reign it in and play a much more conservative game than he’s been known for in the past. This is what makes this signing such a longshot in my opinion.
Winston has a history of playing it risky and throwing when he shouldn’t. However, if he signs with the Patriots, they will need to teach him to control himself. If they succeed, that whole offense could take a giant step forward.
Fellow first-round pick N’Keal Harry is very talented and was drafted to be the WR1 of the future for the Patriots. If he’s finally ready to take that next step, a QB like Winston that wants to throw downfield could be a match made in heaven. The Patriots are known for their outside the box thinking, and Winston is definitely outside the box.
Familiar head coach — Washington Football Team
Another team currently looking for QB help on the east coast is Washington. Head coach Ron Rivera faced Jameis Winston a total of 10 times in the five years that Winston was in Tampa Bay, going 5-5. Rivera likely saw plenty of him to know what he’d be getting into if the Football Team signed Jameis Winston in free agency.
The Football Team recently cut their supposed quarterback of the future in Dwayne Haskins for off the field conduct. Winston isn’t exactly free of drama himself, but he’s definitely more mature now than he ever was with Tampa Bay. Sitting on the bench in New Orleans this year was probably the best thing that could happen to him. Winston is more prepared to be the starter now that he’s gotten some more experience.
Much like New England, a Winston signing would also boost the Football Team’s offense to new heights. Young studs like WR Terry McLaurin and RB Antonio Gibson would welcome a hot arm unafraid to take chances. If Rivera and his staff could help Winston make better decisions, Washington could be a perfect home for Winston to showcase his talents. He makes them a strong contender in a weak division as well.
Jameis Winston’s best free agency option — Atlanta Falcons
Reuniting with “current” Falcons OC Dirk Koetter
Last but not least, my favorite landing spot that could end up working out well for everyone is with the Atlanta Falcons. Current Falcons OC Dirk Koetter drafted Winston in 2015 before becoming the head coach in Tampa Bay in 2016. Koetter moved on after the 2018 season and became the offensive coordinator for the Falcons immediately afterward. His history with Winston is only part of the problem though.
Even if the Falcons signed Jameis Winston in free agency, Koetter may not be on the team. Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris isn’t guaranteed back, and neither is his staff, so this would require more than a few pieces to fall into place for it to work. In addition to that, the Falcons don’t really need a QB, but that might be up for debate.
Falcons could move on from Matt Ryan
There’s been some chatter about veteran QB Matt Ryan going back to play for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. The 49ers seem ready to move on from their own signal caller in Jimmy Garoppolo. This would put them in the market for a QB themselves and make Ryan a perfect fit there. Ryan and Shanahan were terrific for the Falcons during Ryan’s best years there. If Ryan moves on, and Koetter stays with the team, Winston would be a perfect fit for that new offense.
For starters, Jameis Winston would remain in the NFC South where he’s played his entire career. He’d also be playing for the guy that drafted him first overall in the NFL draft.
Winston is capable of handling a high-powered offense with WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to throw to. The Falcons have some question marks at RB, but they would be a force in the top-heavy NFC. Not saying it’s likely given all that would need to happen, but this could be a match made in heaven. That’s why this is my favorite free agency landing spot for Jameis Winston in 2021.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.