Jameis Winston Landing Spots: Will he return to the Saints in 2022?

Where are some potential landing spots for Jameis Winston? Will he return to the Saints or latch on elsewhere in 2022?

The 2021 NFL season is officially in the books. That means the NFL calendar has already flipped to 2022. It’s time to look ahead toward next season and begin our early preparation. With New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston set to be an unrestricted free agent, let’s explore some 2022 landing spots that might make sense.

Jameis Winston’s landing spots

It’s been a bumpy ride aboard the Winston Express during his seven-year career. The former first overall pick has undoubtedly failed to live up to expectations.

After five years in Tampa Bay, the team moved on following his 30-interception 2019 season. Winston then signed with the Saints to presumably be the heir to Drew Brees. That came to fruition in 2021 after Brees retired. Unfortunately, Winston ended up making just seven starts before his season was derailed by a torn ACL. With all this in mind, where might we see Winston play football in 2022?

Could Winston return to the Saints?

The Saints obviously have familiarity with Winston. He’s been with the team for two seasons, and they have firsthand knowledge of his injury and recovery. Assuming all goes well, it’s possible they run it back for another year.

The biggest impediment for Winston will be the Saints’ likely reluctance to give him a long-term deal. Winston bet on himself prior to the 2021 season, correctly assuming the salary cap would increase after a more normal season.

And things were working out pretty well until his injury. But now, he may need to settle for another short-term prove-it deal, this time to demonstrate he’s healthy and still capable of playing competent football.

The Saints have the single worst salary cap situation in the NFL. According to Spotrac, they are $76 million over the cap. They also just lost their head coach, Sean Payton. This doesn’t strike me as a team looking to make a run in 2022. It’s possible Winston comes back on a team-friendly deal, but my money is on him playing somewhere else.

The Pittsburgh Steelers need a replacement for Ben Roethlisberger

The Steelers are going to pop up in just about any discussion regarding a quarterback’s landing spot. They just made the playoffs with the broken, antique version of Ben Roethlisberger. This is a roster with several talented players and one very close to being able to make a Super Bowl run. They’re missing one key component: a quarterback.

I don’t think anyone views Winston as a guy who can lead a team to a Super Bowl. However, could he really be a downgrade on 2021 Roethlisberger? With the talent they have on the roster, the Steelers are not ready for a full rebuild. They need a bridge quarterback — someone to start for a year or two while they search for their QB of the future. Winston could certainly fit that bill.

Ultimately, I don’t think he ends up in Pittsburgh. If he does, Winston can’t possibly be worse from a fantasy perspective for guys like Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Ideally, the Steelers would let Winston throw and try and make plays. I know that failed in Tampa Bay, but we also saw how unproductive a QB only throwing 5-yard checkdowns can be.

Winston is volatile. That may not be great for Pittsburgh, but it’s great for fantasy. The consensus opinion would likely view Winston as good for Claypool, but bad for Johnson. I disagree. Johnson is the clear WR1 and, by far, the most talented wide receiver on the team. He would be Winston’s guy despite the comparisons we would inevitably get between Claypool and Mike Evans.

Could Winston be the next guy the Denver Broncos try out?

Perhaps I’m just pulling this out of thin air, but I really think the Broncos will at least explore the possibility of bringing in Winston. Similar to the Steelers, Denver has a Super Bowl team and just needs a quarterback.

Teddy Bridgewater is competent, but he’s not a difference-maker. As for Drew Lock, my mother taught me that if you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

Last year, the Saints pulled in the reins on Winston. They didn’t let him be the reckless gunslinger he was in Tampa. As a result, he was an inefficient game manager. Could Denver’s new coaching staff find a happy medium between the guy that threw the ball to the wrong team 30 times in 2019 and the guy that was afraid to throw the ball at all in 2021?

You can certainly sign me up for Winston in Denver. As an ardent Courtland Sutton supporter, the 2019 version of Winston is exactly what Sutton needs to propel him to fantasy greatness. It wouldn’t be as jolly for Jerry Jeudy, though. Jeudy requires more of a precision passer, which is not exactly what Winston is.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles