New Orleans coach Sean Payton struggled to pick the Saints’ starting quarterback for Sunday’s game before finally deciding to join Taysom Hill, but several players and people in the organization felt Jameis Winston should have been the starter against Atlanta Falcons, sources tell ESPN.
Payton knew which quarterback he decided on – Hill or Winston – would lead to a specific and different type of game plan. The longtime coach took with the quarterback that the Saints assured last spring – when he signed his two-year extension – that he would get a chance to start if Drew Brees was ever injured.
The Saints see this as a chance to get an evaluation of Hill at quarterback now and for the future, with Brees, according to sources, still likely to retire after this season.
Joining Hill on Sunday does not rule out Winston taking over for Brees as the Saints̵
There is still a widespread expectation that this will be Brees’ last season, according to sources around the league. Hill’s two-year, $ 21 million contract pays him as if he’s going to be the starting quarterback next season, and Winston is on a one-year deal.
Many people close to the situation act as if the 2020 season will be Brees’ last, although the Saints also thought 2019 would be the future Hall of Famer’s last season. After the Pro Bowl ended in January last year, Brees and Saints coaches shared an emotional moment, thinking it was the end before Brees decided to return for the 2020 season.
There is no concrete timetable for how long Brees will be sidelined while recovering from broken ribs and a collapsed lung, but the phrase “four to five weeks” came a few times last week from various sources. Brees was placed on injured reserve on Friday, meaning he will miss at least three games – starting with Sunday’s competition against Atlanta.
Brees told ESPN’s Ed Werder on Sunday that doctors have been encouraged by his progress, especially improving lung function and the continued spread of pneumothorax, which suffered in the first half of last Sunday’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The 13-time Pro Bowler told Werder he is hoping he will be ready to play as soon as he qualifies in Week 14.