West Palm Beach, Fla. – There were numbers that significantly worked in Jameis Winston's favor when the New Orleans Saints re-signed the unrestricted free agent quarterback.
"I think the No. 1 thing was 14 and 3," Coach Dennis Allen said Tuesday from the NFL Annual Meetings at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla. "He threw 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. I think that was the biggest thing that showed me that he can be our quarterback.
"I thought he did a great job of protecting the ball and we were 5-2 with him as starting quarterback. So I felt like he was a guy that gave us an opportunity to win, and so, we felt good about that.
"I thought he did a really good job with his decision-making. He protected the football, he put our team in a position to win. I think in our league, the No. 1 thing you have to do is figure out how not to lose games before you can really figure out how to win them. I thought he did a great job of understanding the type of team that we have and putting our team in a position to win."
New Orleans announced it had agreed to terms with Winston on a two-year contract a week ago Tuesday. He passed for 1,170 yards and completed 95 of 161 passes before tearing his ACL against Tampa Bay on Halloween.
The Saints also pursued a trade for then-Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson; Watson eventually agreed to a trade that sent him to Cleveland.
"There was an interest on our part, we did our due diligence, we did our homework and he ended up going somewhere else," Allen said. "So we move forward from there and went full-speed ahead with Jameis, and we're excited about that."
"Just collect all the information that you can and make the best decision," Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis said. "Jameis was unsigned at the time and he's exploring his options, and oftentimes, the team has to explore options at the same time. I don't think it's anything unusual."
The unusual position for the Saints was the actual pursuit of a quarterback, after having Drew Brees man the position for 15 seasons (2006-20). Winston was an unrestricted free agent in '21, also, but quickly signed a one-year deal with New Orleans for the opportunity to compete for the starting job with Taysom Hill.
This year, with Winston again an unrestricted free agent and Hill slated primarily to play tight end, New Orleans entered the offseason needing to address the position in terms of signing a starter.
"I think the role for Taysom really is going to be a lot more of the tight end type of role," Allen said. "I think that's the direction we're going to move with him because I think he can be one of the better players in the league in that role. I don't like having Taysom – if Jameis is out there playing quarterback – I don't really like Taysom standing next to me on the sideline."
Winston's two-year deal closed the starting vacancy.
"I feel great about it," Allen said. "I think Jameis gives us some stability at the position. I thought there were a lot of things that we saw Jameis do in those first seven weeks that gave us a lot of optimism about what we can be as a team with him. So we're excited about that moving forward.
"Jameis is great. Jameis is great. And Jameis understands how our business operates. He was great through the whole process. He and I had a couple of good, tough conversations. I thought it was a good process."
On Tuesday, Loomis confirmed that New Orleans agreed to terms with veteran free agent quarterback Andy Dalton to join the team as Winston's backup.
In 11 seasons, the 34-year-old Dalton has completed 3,122 of 5,018 passes for 35,279 yards and 226 touchdowns, with 135 interceptions. He has started 148 of the 152 games he has played, including all 133 in nine seasons with the Bengals.
"He's an experienced quarterback who's played a lot of games, started a lot of games in our league," Loomis said. "And I think he'll be a help to Jameis in the event he has to play. We can win games with him."