The Nine

Saints ‘struggled’ with Taysom Hill-Jameis Winston decision


Not everyone is on board with the Saints’ quarterback hierarchy with veteran Drew Brees out.

The controversial decision to start utility player Taysom Hill over former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston was extremely difficult for many members of the organization — including head coach Sean Payton, who “struggled” with the call, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Multiple players and people within the organization who thought Jameis Winston should have been the starter against the Atlanta Falcons,” Schefter reported on Sunday.

Brees, 41, was placed on injured reserve on Friday after suffering 11 fractured ribs and a collapsed lung last week against the 49ers. He will miss at least three weeks, but could miss “four to five weeks,” per various sources.

Winston finished the game in relief of Brees and went 6-for-10 for 63 yards. His usage and resume as a starter led many to believe he would get the start come Sunday, but it was shockingly announced on Friday that Hill would get the start against the Falcons.

Winston won the Heisman Trophy in 2013 and was selected first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft from Florida State. The 26-year-old split from the Buccaneers in early 2020 and was signed to an incentive-laden $1 million contract by the Saints in April. Entering this year, he had completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 19,737 yards, 131 total touchdowns, 88 interceptions and 50 fumbles.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill, head coach Sean Payton, and quarterback Jameis Winston
New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill, head coach Sean Payton, and quarterback Jameis WinstonGetty Images

Hill, 30, is an undrafted free agent and has completed just 10 of 18 pass attempts for 205 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception through 46 career appearances. He briefly began his career as a member of the Packers in 2017, but was released before the season began and claimed by the Saints off waivers.

The Saints signed the versatile BYU product to a two-year, $21 million contract extension during the offseason. They likely need to evaluate him as a potential long-term solution once Brees inevitably retires.

“Sean just wants to know,” an inside source told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

While technically listed as a quarterback, the gadget player — who has been dubbed “the human Swiss Army Knife” — more frequently takes snaps at tight end, receiver and running back than quarterback, which will impact the Saints’ play-calling this week. It’s worth noting that the team did not turn to Hill last season when Brees was out for five games and instead went with backup Teddy Bridgewater, who won all five games.

In spite of his previous usage, Hill has expressed on multiple occasions he views himself as a franchise quarterback.

“I definitely view myself as a franchise quarterback,” Hill told the Associated Press’ Rob Maaddi before free agency. “If New Orleans doesn’t view me that way, I have to leave, and that’s really where we’re at.”

The Saints (7-2) will face the Falcons (3-6) in New Orleans at 1 p.m. on Fox.

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