Starting their year 5-2, the New Orleans Saints appeared primed to make a playoff run before Jameis Winston went down for the season with a torn ACL. Four losses later and the Saints now look more primed for a high draft pick than a spot in the postseason.
It’s not that Winston was performing badly at the time of his injury, but he also didn’t help them take the next step, offensively. Or, at least not in the way a franchise quarterback would, or did with Drew Brees in 2006.
Injuries are always unfortunate and unpredictable and while they might ruin the 2021 season for the Winston-led Saints, their eventual draft position also gives them a better opportunity to improve in 2022.
To be fair, the organization just signed Taysom Hill to a four-year extension, which at least points to the possibility of him taking over at the position long-term. However, if Hill doesn’t show enough over the next six games, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Sean Payton wanted to once again reel in a big fish as he once did with Brees.
Last season we saw Matthew Stafford switch teams, we could see several other high-profile quarterbacks on the move this offseason. With their strong defense, a talented core led by Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas on offense, and a pair of elite offensive tackles, why wouldn’t a great quarterback want to play for Payton in the Superdome?
The Saints could very well run it back with a Winston-Hill combination, but that shouldn’t excite anyone looking to actually win a Super Bowl. Who are some other options to be the New Orleans Saints’ starting quarterback in 2022? Here are five we’ve come up with.
Saints sign Jimmy Garoppolo
Barring a great, late-season run, Jimmy Garoppolo likely won’t be the San Francisco 49ers‘ starting quarterback again in 2022. Although he is currently under contract for next season, the ‘Niners can walk away, with just $1.4 million in dead salary on their payroll. Of course, he could be traded as well, with a team renegotiating his contract amount down from the $27 million he’s currently set to make.
Jimmy Garoppolo stats in 2021: 170-of-254, 66.9% completion rate, 2,112 yards, 12 TD, 5 INT
On paper, Jimmy G’s numbers don’t blow anyone away. But he could appeal to Sean Payton as Garoppolo does a good job of limiting turnovers while putting his team in position to win. A career record of 29-12 shows that Garoppolo is capable of making good decisions and never throwing more than 13 interceptions in any season backs that up.
Granted, Garoppolo’s a safe choice. He shouldn’t excite anyone more than say Winston, Hill, or even gambling on 2021 4th round pick Ian Book. The Saints can likely do better, or at least bring in someone with a higher ceiling.
Drafting and developing Pitt’s Kenny Pickett
If the Saints want to add to their quarterback room by bringing in a young arm with potential, there should be a number of options in the 2022 NFL Draft. Pitt’s Kenny Pickett may stand out to Payton more than a few of the other prospects rumored to be taken in the first two rounds.