NEW ORLEANS, La. — Quarterback James Winston is concluding a deal to return to New Orleans Saintshe said CBS Sportsa move that kept him on the team as a backup on a revised contract.
Winston, who is set to make $12.8 million in base salary in the final year of the two-year extension he signed in 2022, will sign an amended contract for one year and $4 million, with incentives that bring the potential total deal value at $8 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Winston’s new deal will free up more cap room for the Saints, who entered the offseason more than $50 million over the 2023 salary cap. They reduced that number after a series of restructurings to become cap compliant at the start of the new league year on Wednesday.
The Saints offered Winston a new contract last week after agreeing to a four-year deal with the former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on March 6. Winston had until Wednesday to agree to the deal or be released, with $5.8 million of his salary due to become guaranteed Friday.
If Winston is released, he would likely save $4.4 million against the salary cap as a standard deduction, or $12.8 million if the Saints choose to assign him after June 1.
The Saints gave Winston a new deal in March after trying and failing to get the old one Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watsonwhich was exchanged for Cleveland Browns. Winston entered the summer as the projected starter even though he was rehabbing from a torn ACL.
Winston recovered from an ACL tear in time to participate in training camp, but back and foot injuries early in the season limited him to just three games in 2023. Saints coach Dennis Allen said his first Winston was sat out in Week 4 to let him heal, but Winston never regained his starting job Andy Daltonthough he was deemed healthy enough to play later in the season.
Winston’s 2022 season was also cut short after he suffered an ACL tear against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Halloween. Winston, drafted No. 1 overall by the Buccaneers in 2015, hasn’t started a full season since going 7-9 in 2019, his final season in Tampa.
Dalton is set to become a free agent after starting 14 games for the Saints last year. If Dalton doesn’t re-sign, Winston will go into the 2023 season as Carr’s backup. Winston signed with the Saints as one of Drew Brees’ backups in the 2020 season, but did not start any games. Taysom Hill filled in for Brees when he was injured.
Winston won the starting job over Hill in training camp after Brees retired in 2021. Hill was moved to tight end room before the 2022 season.
Winston started 10 games in his three seasons in New Orleans, completing 61% of his passes for 2,103 yards and 18 touchdowns, with eight interceptions.