Panthers potential 2021 free agent targets: QB Jameis Winston

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Tim Weaver
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The Saints ignored the salary cap for 15 years and managed to stay competitive for most of that time. The bill has finally come due though and even after restructuring Drew Brees’ deal the team finds themselves some $69.5 million over the cap. That will make it extremely difficult for them to retain some of their pending free agents.

The Panthers could try to pick off guys like safety Marcus Williams or tight end Jared Cook, but the biggest potential prize is taking a chance on the potential of a former No. 1 overall pick. Jameis Winston spent the year as Brees’ backup and is about to hit the market if the Saints’ don’t re-sign him before the new league year.

Pros

If Carolina is truly looking for a departure from current starter Teddy Bridgewater, it doesn’t get much more different than Winston’s game. He can be erratic to say the least, but he has far more arm talent than Teddy (and most starters) and is capable of making some mind-blowing throws. In 2019 with the Bucs – his last as a QB1 – he led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and also threw 33 touchdowns. Winston is not shy about testing defenses deep, averaging 12.6 yards gained per completion in his career. After spending a year in New Orleans with Brees and Sean Payton, Winston should also be familiar with the concepts that Joe Brady employs in his offense with the Panthers.

Cons

While Bridgewater’s fault lies in not being aggressive enough and frequently throwing short of the sticks, Winston goes too far the other direction, taking too many risks and forcing too many throws down the field into tight windows. Panthers fans should be as familiar as any fanbase outside Tampa with Winston’s issues. He also threw a league-high 30 picks in 2019 and has 88 in his career, 14 of them coming against Carolina.

Conclusion

It’s pretty tough to guess what Winston’s market value is right now. He signed with the Saints for a pittance but he’s clearly worth more than that, turnovers notwithstanding. One could see Winston signing another one-year deal for the veteran mininum or signing a massive contract that averages closer to $25 million a year. The Panthers should at least call his agent if Winston’s available in two weeks and they haven’t traded for another QB.

Related

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