Quarterback Jameis Winston provided the right numbers for New Orleans Saints coach Dennis Allen
West Palm Beach, Fla. — Some numbers worked significantly in Jameis Winston’s favor when the New Orleans Saints re-signed the unrestricted free agent quarterback.
“I think the No. 1 thing was 14 and 3,” coach Dennis Allen said Tuesday during the NFL’s annual meetings at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla. “He threw for 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. I think that was the biggest thing it showed me that he can be our quarterback.
“I think he did a great job protecting the ball and we were 5-2 with him as the starting quarterback. So I felt like he was a guy who gave us a opportunity to win, and so, we felt good about it.
“I think he did a really good job with his decision-making. He protected the football, he put our team in a position to win. I think in our league the number one thing you have to do is to figure out how not to lose games before you can really figure out how to win them. I think he did a great job of understanding the type of team we have and putting our team in a position to win.
New Orleans announced a week ago on Tuesday that it had agreed to a two-year contract with Winston. He passed for 1,170 yards and completed 95 of 161 passes before tearing his ACL against Tampa Bay on Halloween.
The Saints also pursued a trade for Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson; Watson eventually accepted a trade that sent him to Cleveland.
“There was interest on our part, we did our due diligence, we did our homework and he ended up going somewhere else,” Allen said. “So we moved forward from there and went full speed ahead with Jameis, and we’re thrilled about that.”
“Just gather all the information you can and make the best decision,” Saints executive vice president/general manager Mickey Loomis said. “Jameis was unsigned at the time and he’s exploring his options, and often the team has to explore options at the same time. I don’t think that’s anything unusual.”
The unusual position for the Saints was a real quarterback pursuit, having held Drew Brees’ position for 15 seasons (2006-20). Winston was also an unrestricted free agent in 21, but soon signed a one-year deal with New Orleans for the opportunity to compete for the starting job with Taysom Hill.
This year, with Winston again an unrestricted free agent and Hill slated primarily to play tight end, New Orleans entered the offseason needing to address the position in terms of signing a starter.
“I think Taysom’s role will really be a lot more of the tight end type,” Allen said. “I think that’s the direction we’re going to take with him because I think he can be one of the best players in the league in that role. I don’t like having Taysom – if Jameis plays quarterback -back – I don’t really like Taysom standing next to me on the touchline.”
Winston’s two-year contract ended the starting vacancy.
“I feel good about it,” Allen said. “I think Jameis gives us some stability at the position. I thought there were a lot of things that we saw Jameis do in those first seven weeks that gave us a lot of optimism about what we were up to. we can team up with him, so we’re excited to move forward.
“Jameis is great. Jameis is great. And Jameis understands how our business works. He was great through the process. He and I had some interesting and challenging conversations. I thought it was a good process. “
On Tuesday, Loomis confirmed that New Orleans had agreed to terms with veteran free agent quarterback Andy Dalton to join the team as Winston’s replacement.
In 11 seasons, Dalton, 34, completed 3,122 of 5,018 passes for 35,279 yards and 226 touchdowns, with 135 interceptions. He started 148 of the 152 games he played, including all 133 in nine seasons with the Bengals.
“He’s an experienced quarterback who’s played a lot of games and started a lot of games in our league,” Loomis said. “And I think he will be a help for Jameis if he has to play. We can win games with him.”