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NFL

New Orleans Saints quarterback question mark

With Russel Wilson signed to Denver, the quarterback options for the New Orleans Saints have shifted, some doors closed and other ones opened

Update:
With Russel Wilson signed to Denver, the quarterback options for the New Orleans Saints have shifted, some doors closed and other ones opened

For so many years, the Saints could simply ignore the perennial “quarterback question” that seems to preoccupy nearly every NFL team’s every waking moment. Drew Brees would be the steady hand on the tiller, come hell or high water. Right up to, and even after, his retirement, it seemed unthinkable that anyone else would take that top spot.

But the single-minded focus that Sean Payton demonstrated toward Brees had an unintended side effect. It let the backups that the Saints have had over that decade and a half trickle through New Orleans’ fingers. Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t willing to wait for a retirement that seemed to disappear over the horizon and, perversely, came one year after he was traded to Denver.

Jameis Winston was picked up on short notice to fill the spot, but injury hampered his season and now the Saints have a quarterback question that they can no longer afford to put off.

We’re approaching it with a sense of urgency, that’s for sure,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine this week. “Jameis is certainly an option for us, and, hopefully, we’re an option for him as well, so we’ll go through the process here and see what happens.”

The Saints have five days left to sign Winston to an extension before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. But both sides seem to be content to explore other opportunities. At the top of the list has to be former Saint, now displaced Bronco, Teddy Bridgewater. When Brees was knocked out of the lineup in 2019, Bridgewater went 5-0 as a starter, and there are still a loyal cadre in New Orleans, both in the back office as well as in the fanbase, who are firmly Team Teddy.

A few marquee names are likely to be available in this free agency including Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Joe Flacco. It is not likely that the Saints will look to draft a potential starting quarterback, with their first pick coming in at number 18. But of course, nothing can be definitively ruled out.

It is also worth mentioning that the Saints currently have two quarterbacks on their roster already in Taysom Hill and Ian Book. In his only regular-season NFL game, Book went 12 of 20 and gave up two picks. With development, the former Notre Dame man may have a future under center, but it is abundantly clear that he isn’t there yet.

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Likewise, Taysom Hill has the bona fides at quarterback, winning four of his five starts last season. But he is not a pocket passer, his first instinct is to run, and he runs beautifully. Perhaps he can be developed into a more traditional passing quarterback, he certainly has the skillset, but by doing that, the Saints would be sacrificing the potency of one of their biggest offensive weapons. As much as I love Taysom, the Saints are better off using him as the utility lightning bolt that he has become for them.

With a defensive-minded head coach, the Saints could stick with Jameis Winston and run their offense with the guys who already know it. But you never know. They might even take a run at Jimmy Garoppolo.

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