1. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints (cap casualty or trade candidate)
Let’s get this one out of the way first, because it’s arguable whether or not Jameis Winston qualifies for this title of “reclamation project” at this point. I am saying that he does because Sean Payton never really got to see the work he started with Winston finished in their time with the Saints.
In Sean Payton’s final year with New Orleans, Jameis Winston was his QB1. Winston started the first seven games and was on pace for over 50 touchdowns. He had his highest TD percentage ever, but most impressively, he had cut his interception percentage down to the lowest it’s ever been in the pros.
When Sean Payton talks about fitting his offense to what the players do best, he’s not just pumping fluff for the cameras and writers like me. He’s putting it into practice. Remember, Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions in his final season with the Buccaneers under noted offensive expert Bruce Arians.
It should come as no shock that things changed dramatically two years later for Winston in Sean Payton’s program. But, unfortunately, Winston would tear his ACL in the seventh game of that season, and we wouldn’t get to see how long he could sustain the success he’d come to find in New Orleans.
He played so well, however, that the Saints had really no choice but to give him a new contract in 2022, one they could get out of here in 2023. Winston may not be in the team’s immediate plans as they potentially pursue the likes of Derek Carr when he becomes available. If Winston hits free agency, it stands to reason the Denver Broncos would have interest in him as a backup to Russell Wilson.