With Derek Carr signing, Jameis Winston’s time with the Saints looks to be ending
In the midst of all of the excitement surrounding the New Orleans Saints landing their preferred next quarterback in Derek Carr, there is another layer of not-so-enjoyable reality. This move very likely signals the end of quarterback Jameis Winston’s time in New Orleans. And to be honest, the team and player were likely headed towards a split one way or another this offseason.
While Winston was with the Saints, there were high hopes on his ability to reestablish himself as a top-tier NFL starter. Unfortunately that plan was derailed by injuries and the Saints instead turned to veteran backup Andy Dalton to be their starter throughout the 2022 season. Now, with Carr en route to the Big Easy, it’s only a matter of time before Winston is looking for a new playing destination.
The Saints will have to make a choice in terms of how they’d like to handle his release. They have two primary options. They can cut him outright whenever they are ready or they can designate him as a post-June 1 cut after the new league year begins next week.
If the Saints were to outright release him now, as the Las Vegas Raiders did with Derek Carr before he made his way to New Orleans, the Saints would have to take on $11.2 million in dead cap while saving just $4.4 million in the process. A post-June 1 cut would save them a lot more with a savings of $12.8 million (just $2.8 million in dead cap) as that move would differ owed funds to next season. But there are some complications.
A post-June 1 release is an accounting measure that pushes owed money down the road instead of the full amount of outstanding guaranteed funds advancing to their books at the time of release. It’s a good was to save some money in 2023 against the cap, but teams are only allowed two such transactions each offseason. While an outright release would save them money immediately, a post-June 1 cut would mean that while the Saints would save a larger chunk of change, they would still have to carry the full salary until June 2.
So the Saints could save a large amount by using one of their post-June 1 cuts on Winston, but the savings wouldn’t be fully realized until after June 1 even if the move happens as early as March 15. In either case, Winston would be free to start pursuing his next gig. And that opportunity should present itself. Winston is an immensely talented quarterback. Talented enough that another run with the Indianapolis Colts (who he turned down to remain in New Orleans last year) or a reunion with Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton would make sense.
One might say that New Orleans would be better off by simply parting ways with Winston and taking the $4.4 million savings this offseason. But if they want to maximize their return, the differed option offers the largest savings even though they would be delayed.
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