For the first time in a decade and half, the New Orleans Saints are looking for a new starting quarterback.
The top candidates to succeed the now-retired Drew Brees are a pair of returning Saints — former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill and former Tampa Bay starter Jameis Winston.
Saints coach Sean Payton joined NFL Network’s Rich Eisen on his show this week, and when Payton was asked if he would utilize a two-QB system with Hill and Winston, the coach indicated they are looking for a clear QB1 to lead New Orleans in 2021.
“I think the furthest we went with that would’ve been when everyone was healthy and Taysom was playing I’ll call it maybe eight to 10 plays at quarterback — I would never discount that. But I would say this, (Hill) knows and so does Jameis that we’re looking to find a guy that’s going to lead our team this year,” Payton told Eisen, per NBC Sports.
“And that doesn’t mean the other guy is not going to have a role. But certainly, it varies. If Jameis is starting, obviously Taysom has a role that expands not only just offensively, but on special teams, etc. And if it’s the other way around, it’s probably a little bit more limited just relative to what Jameis would do.”
Hill, who’s been used primarily as a utility player during his first four NFL seasons, said recently he’s adjusted his offseason workout schedule to primarily focus on being “a full-time quarterback.”
“For the last four years, my workout routine has been different,” Hill told media members, per ESPN’s Mike Triplett. “It’s been structured to be the Swiss Army knife and do all these other things I was going to be called upon (to do), where now my emphasis, my focus is just being a full-time quarterback.”
The team added another veteran signal-caller this offseason, Trevor Siemian, and selected Notre Dame’s Ian Book in last week’s NFL draft. Still, the race to replace the 13-time Pro Bowler is expected to come down to Hill or Winston, who the team signed to another one-year deal this offseason after he joined the Saints in 2020.
New Orleans will have the chance to evaluate its quarterback situation in person, soon, as the NFL announced the offseason workout schedules for all 32 teams Thursday. The Saints begin three weeks of OTA (organized team activity) offseason workouts on May 25 — they also will hold their rookie minicamp May 14-16 — then will have a mandatory minicamp June 15-17.
“The transition has begun and we look at then a lot of what we’re going to do offensively based on who’s doing it and how do we put an offense around those players or that player,” Payton told Eisen. “So I think there’s a little bit in flux relative to who’s starting and then the role each player has. Some of that will be training-camp driven.”