Next on the under-center agenda: determining who will be the starter. For now, Saints coach Sean Payton is steadfast in his stance on the future at quarterback. It's going to be a competition between the recently re-signed Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, no matter who else might end up coming into the fold.
"I think we are. I think we are," Payton told Dan Patrick when asked if he was set at the position during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show. "And look, there will be a few calls we make, but our goal coming into this offseason was to obviously re-sign Jameis. Taysom played for us in four games last year. And let those guys go to work, and I'm excited about it. I'm excited about those two. Now, there are a few things that may still be out there, but I see those two competing for the position."
Hill has drawn plenty of attention from New Orleans for his versatility, appearing on special teams and playing a hybrid role of a gadget type of player and also a bit of traditional quarterback when the Saints were in need of a replacement for Brees. With Brees now retired, Hill's viability as a full-time starter seems less appealing, while Winston's upside remains intriguing.
Payton likes both for different reasons, and also one key commonality.
"I like Taysom because he loves football, and I like Jameis because he loves football, and those guys are fun to be around," Payton said when pressed on his affinity for using Hill in various situations.
Hill got the job last season because of his experience. After all, Winston hadn't even been in New Orleans for a full calendar year, and the Saints were still in the thick of a race for the conference's top seed. But when Hill's limitations led to the Saints losing in an upset against the lowly Eagles, his warts rose to the forefront, leading some to wonder whether he was really anything more than the perfect wrinkle for Payton's offense.
Winston, meanwhile, saw sparse playing time but carries with him the physical ability that once led him to be selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If one were to project a future long-term starter, the logical answer would be Winston, provided he grows out of his penchant for making crushing mistakes with the football.
"Those two are going to be sitting there," Payton said. "Obviously I've told both of them 'hey, it's gonna be, the two of you are going to compete for this position.' And they understand it. They'll come in, we've already had a chance to see both of them to some degree. I think last year was important for us, relative to Jameis. We had had Taysom in the building, but it gave us a year to evaluate (Jameis) and it also gave him a year to evaluate us. And I think that was important."
Apparently, Winston's evaluation was enough to convince him to re-up with the Saints. We'll learn this summer whether their evaluation and his progression are enough to earn him the starting job.