NEW ORLEANS, La. — Quarterback Jameis Winston is finalizing a deal to return to the New Orleans Saints, he told CBS Sports, a move that keeps him with the team as a backup on a revised contract.
Winston, who was set to make $12.8 million in base salary in the final year of a two-year extension he signed in 2022, will sign an amended contract for one year and $4 million, with incentives bringing the potential total value of the deal to $8 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Winston’s new deal will free up more cap room for the Saints, who entered the offseason more than $50 million over the 2023 salary cap. They have whittled that number down after a series of restructures to get cap compliant by the start of the new league year on Wednesday.
The Saints proposed a new contract to Winston last week after agreeing to a four-year deal with former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on March 6. Winston had until Wednesday to agree to the deal or be released, with $5.8 million of his salary due to become guaranteed on Friday.
Had Winston been released, he likely would have saved $4.4 million against the salary cup as a standard cut, or $12.8 million if the Saints had chosen to give him a post-June 1 release designation.
The Saints gave Winston a new deal last March after trying and failing to acquire former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns. Winston entered the summer as the expected starter even though he was rehabbing from a torn ACL.
Winston recovered from the ACL tear in time to participate in training camp, but back and foot injuries early in the season limited him to only three games in 2023. Saints coach Dennis Allen said he initially sat Winston in Week 4 to let him heal, but Winston never got his starting job back from Andy Dalton, even when he was deemed healthy enough to play later in the season.
Winston’s 2022 season was also cut short after he suffered the ACL tear against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Halloween. Winston, who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Buccaneers in 2015, has not started a full season since he went 7-9 in 2019, his final season in Tampa.
Dalton is set to become a free agent after starting 14 games for the Saints last year. If Dalton does not re-sign, Winston will be heading into the 2023 season as Carr’s backup. Winston signed with the Saints as one of Drew Brees’ backups during the 2020 season, but did not start any games. Taysom Hill filled in for Brees when he was injured.
Winston won the starting job over Hill in training camp after Brees retired in 2021. Hill was moved to the tight end room prior to the 2022 season.
Winston has started 10 games during his three seasons in New Orleans, completing 61% of his passes for 2,103 yards and 18 touchdowns, with eight interceptions.