After Further Review: Five takes on Saints quarterback search

Jameis Winston remains a realistic option for Saints quarterback.
Jameis Winston remains a realistic option for Saints quarterback.(WVUE)
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 2:59 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Quarterback market shrinking

The cone of uncertainty is tightening up in the Saints quarterback search. Gone are the two biggest names off the board: Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and Russell Wilson to Denver. By the way, I’m told the Saints did in fact inquire about Wilson. Why wouldn’t they? He’s an elite player at the most important position. It’s unknown how far those talks went.

Regardless, landing either Wilson or Rodgers, without Sean Payton, always felt like a stretch. Another big move was made in Indianapolis with the Carson Wentz trade to Washington.

So where does that leave the Saints? Realistically, there simply are no perfect options. In my opinion, three names are emerging above the rest: Jameis Winston, Jimmy Garappolo and Teddy Bridgewater.

Take Two: Run it back

I’ve been asked multiple times if Winston is the ‘frontrunner’ to return as Saints quarterback. My answer is always the same: he’s a real option, but I’m hesitant to label him the frontrunner mainly because I’m not sure that he is. In fact, I’m pretty confident in saying that had Payton returned, Winston was not going to be his starting quarterback.

However, given the current circumstances, Winston is a realistic possibility. He knows the offense and had a good season where he showed growth before he was injured. Plus, the pool of available quality players is dwindling. Mickey Loomis confirmed the team’s interest at the NFL Combine.

What we don’t know is his market. Given where things currently stand, one can easily make the case that Winston is the best free agent option at the position. There are at least six teams still in need of a quarterback. This should help his value. A desperate team may be willing to throw more money or more years at Winston than the Saints are willing to spend.

At the end of it all, Winston’s future with the Saints will likely depend on the price tag. Loomis will have a price point in mind and won’t go over it. At this point in time, running it back with Winston is still very possible.

Take Three: Trading for Jimmy

The big report coming out of Indianapolis at the NFL was the Saints being in the market for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garappolo. It was interesting that the reporter, Jeremy Fowler, labeled it ‘the wildest rumor’ he heard. Um, that’s not wild at all to anyone in New Orleans. Most of us down here already knew the organization liked him.

Garappolo’s best quality is his win/loss record. Some argue that wins and losses shouldn’t be considered a QB stat. I get it, but the fact is he’s won a lot of big games. No one lucks their way into that much success, especially in the NFL. The sample size is large enough to label Jimmy G. a winner. And we know, Dennis Allen basically said that’s what he wants in his signal caller.

Still, Garappolo has his faults. We know exactly who he is. He’ll be part of the reason a team wins games, not THE reason. He’s solid over spectacular with a high floor but low ceiling. He’s best suited to quarterback a team that has a strong defense and running game. When given that and healthy, he’s led teams to a Super Bowl and an NFC Championship.

The Saints obviously have that, but Garappolo is also coming off shoulder surgery. That’s a concern.

There’s also a matter of compensation. What would it take to make a deal for a guy like Garappolo? The Commanders just swapped second round picks and traded two third round picks(one of which can turn into a second) for Wentz. Will the 49ers want more? What would the Saints be willing to give up to make that move?

Bottom line, the Saints have interest but there are a few obstacles to overcome for this to be a reality.

Take Four: Take back two gloves

Bridgewater is safe, steady and familiar with the Saints. His name won’t bring a ton of excitment, but he can be trusted to help a team. He’ll never wow anyone with physical prowess, but he had the most success of his career here in New Orleans. He went 5-0 filling in for Drew Brees in 2019.

Plus, Bridgewater will not command a lot on the open market and seems perfectly fine with being the bridge guy for a year or two until they find their next ‘franchise’ guy.

To me, Bridgewater is a more realistic option than people want to admit. Especially if Winston becomes too expensive and a Garappolo trade can’t happen.

Take Five: Other Observations

- Another wild card name in the quarterback search could be the Bills’ Mitch Trubisky. He wouldn’t be someone to hand the job over to but rather a one-year trial type of player.

- My colleague Jeff Duncan suggested that the Saints could place a call to the Giants about Daniel Jones. In the time I’ve worked with Jeff, I’ve learned that when he suggests something like this, he’s not pulling it out of thin air. We must take it seriously.

- Should the Saints make a deal for Garappolo, I’d expect them to make some kind of adjustment to his contract with either an extension or voidable years. The team can’t take on that $24+million cap hit.

- The addition of any of these players would not prevent the Saints from drafting a quarterback. If they have one they like and the grades match up, they won’t hesitate to take them. The Saints need to give themselves as many options as possible in finding their next franchise quarterback.

- I’m not sure where the Saints stand on the idea of adding Deshaun Watson. Still, his situation is worth monitoring.

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