Odds to be Saints' Week 1 starter: Can Winston beat out Hill at QB?
For the first time in 15 years, the Saints' Week 1 starting quarterback will be someone other than Drew Brees, who retired this offseason after a Hall of Fame run with New Orleans and the Chargers. And the options to be his successor aren't exactly inspiring.
Sure, Jameis Winston started 70 games with the Buccaneers, who took him first overall in 2015. But he threw an absurd 88 interceptions over those five years, including 30 in his final campaign as a starter. Conversely, Taysom Hill has logged more rushing attempts (151) than throws (134) over his four-year career, and his deep ball has been inconsistent, among other issues.
So who will get the nod? Here are the odds for the Saints' Week 1 starter, along with our best bet to win the job:
Jameis Winston (-250)
Winston is the heavy favorite for a reason. His history as an NFL starter is extensive, and he's shown flashes of brilliance, most notably as a rookie while earning a Pro Bowl nod and throwing for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Saints bringing him aboard signaled the team viewed Winston as Brees' potential replacement.
Will that be his role? Brees threw eight or fewer interceptions in each of the last four seasons, and while his arm strength paled in comparison to Winston's in recent years, the offense still operated smoothly. Winston, meanwhile, has been an erratic and often misguided thrower. Will head coach Sean Payton hand the keys to someone with that profile?
The talent is undeniable, and that's why Winston is the favorite here. But this is still a competition, and Winston won't keep his job come the fall if he can't stop turning the ball over this summer.
Taysom Hill (+175)
Hill is the wild card here because we've rarely seen him operate an NFL offense.
Sure, the 30-year-old started four games last year when Brees was injured. But the results were mixed, as he threw for fewer than 300 yards in all four starts and rarely tested the defense deep. When he did, it wasn't pretty.
He's thrown better passes than that, and his ability to pressure defenses with his legs (Hill ran for 209 yards over those four starts) is why Payton has likened him to Steve Young.
But there's a long way to go before Hill can justify a comparison like that, and his raw profile as a passer could push the Saints toward a more proven option to take the baton from Brees.
Ian Book (+3300)
New Orleans used a fourth-round pick on the former Notre Dame quarterback, which is both high enough to be relevant and too low to warrant Week 1 consideration. Book was a good passer in college with a Day 3 grade, mostly due to his intangibles that offset below-average tools.
If there was a realistic chance for Book to start in Week 1 over two other more proven options with tools, that chatter would have surfaced. Don't get cute here.
Taysom Hill (+175)
This isn't an endorsement of Hill as a quarterback or a suggestion that the Saints should start him. There's just too much smoke around the do-it-all passer to treat Winston getting the gig like a foregone conclusion.
Payton has long been infatuated with Hill's profile while floating him as a potential franchise quarterback who can succeed Brees. And when the former Saints QB missed games in 2020, Hill was the next man up. Though he was far from perfect, New Orleans did go 3-1 in those contests while scoring 21-plus points in each matchup.
If this were a coin-flip bet, I'd take Winston's experience early in the year. But with Hill priced as the clear underdog, give me the plus-money and bet on Winston playing his way out of the job this summer.