After three years at a state school and five seasons in Tampa Bay, Jameis Winston is ready to appreciate higher learning.
The newest New Orleans Saints quarterback, who officially signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the team Tuesday with a max value of $4.7 million, said on an Instagram Live interview shortly after the pact was official that he views playing under Drew Brees and company in New Orleans as akin to attending an Ivy League institution.
"Being a part of the New Orleans Saints, being a part with Drew Brees, Taysom Hill, Sean Payton, coach Joe Lombardi, coach Pete Carmichael. When you think about that room, that's like a Harvard education in quarterback school," Winston said. "I wanted to put my ego aside, put the money [aside], think about my family, think about my career. [There] was no better position than to be in the same room with someone that I've really looked up to, someone that I've admired since I've been playing this game in Drew Brees."
Winston will be Brees' backup in the Bayou and could potentially slot third in the depth chart and/or snap counts on the season behind Hill as well. Though it will keep one of the game's most talented arms off the field, it will allow Winston to "watch and learn" under the sports' most accurate quarterback and alongside arguably its sharpest offensive mind.
In cruder terms, Winston's stay in New Orleans could be a sort of quarterback rehab, somewhere the turnover-prone gunslinger can learn by Brees' example and Payton's guidance to rein it in, make smarter decisions and prove his worth as a starting QB to one of 32 organizations, Saints included.
There is precedent for such a turnaround with the Saints. Just last year, when Brees went out with a hand injury in Week 2, former starter and then-Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater came in and went undefeated in five starts for New Orleans before ceding the job back to Brees later that fall. This offseason, Bridgewater signed a three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers to be their starting QB, three-plus years after losing his starting job in Minnesota to a devastating leg injury.
Though Winston fell out of favor in Tampa Bay due to poor performance and the availability of Tom Brady, not a shattered leg, the newest Brees backup is hoping for a similar outcome.
"I've done some great things with the Bucs," Winston said. "I'm going to miss being a starting quarterback. But you never know what happens. I think this is just a great and a unique step to join Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints and learn from him, learn from one of the best to ever do it and make a great transition in my career.