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Jameis Winston believes he'll finish career as 'one of the best quarterbacks to play the game'

Jameis Winston believes he'll finish career as 'one of the best quarterbacks to play the game'

Jameis Winston -- to simply put it -- is an enigma on the football field.

His 5,109 passing yards in 2019 and jaw-dropping throws demonstrate just how talented the former No. 1 overall pick is. At the same time, his 30 interceptions in 2019 and questionable playmaking decisions make it impossible to ignore the negatives. When he's good, he can pick apart any defense. When he's bad, it's hard to know what's going to happen.

Winston's variability on the field has led him to where he is today: a backup for the New Orleans Saints. Despite his time as a starter and statistical success, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not bring him back on a new contract. Other NFL teams showed little interest in making him a starter, leading him to take a one-year, backup deal.

In an interview with Bleacher Report, Winston detailed how he's handling his new situation. Making changes to his game, the quarterback doesn't see this as the end of his time as a starter in the NFL, but rather a pit stop before he once again heads toward a chance at stardom. 

"It's a love of the game, bro. It's bigger than me," Winston said. "Do I feel like I've earned my stripes? I do. Do I feel like I'm better than a lot of starting quarterbacks in this league? I do. But God has a plan that I haven't even thought of yet. I have to respect this game first. Respect is earned.

"This is not over for me," he said.

At just 26 years old, Winston understands he has plenty of good years of football left in him. But to get the opportunity to show that, he'll need to make changes. This offseason, he's begun retooling both his body and his mind. A vegan diet has allowed him to drop around 17 pounds, while innovative drills have allowed him to fine-tune his footwork and pocket presence.

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At the same time, Winston will be able to sharpen his mind by sharing a room with Drew Brees. There, he'll be able to study how the long-time passer succeeds first hand, rather than looking up his workouts and tendencies on the internet.

"It's different when you have someone who's a Hall of Fame quarterback that you can ask," Winston told Bleacher Report. "He can say, 'Hey, bro, don't watch this stuff. Just watch me. Come work out with me. Let's work out together. Let's do this again. Let's watch film together.' Now he has no choice, because I'm going to be sitting in the room. I'm going to be with him every day."

Winston isn't alone in the path he's decided to take. The quarterback is essentially following in the footsteps of Teddy Bridgewater, who spent the last two seasons in New Orleans learning from Brees and company while getting the chance to show his skill. Bridgewater's journey was due to injury, but his decision to settle for a backup role rather than force something else paid off in the long run. This offseason, Bridgewater signed a three-year, $63 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.

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However, Bridgewater is more the exception than the standard when it comes to backup quarterbacks. More often than not, being No. 2 on a depth chart makes it challenging to get back to No. 1, no matter how good a passer once looked on the field. Robert Griffin III -- another injury example -- can attest to that. Despite a dominant rookie season that showed his true ceiling he's never been able to earn a starting spot, though he's not giving up just yet.

Only time will tell if this route works for Winston. If it does, the Redskins could once again see him down the road, whether it be as Brees' heir or a starter somewhere else. Yet no matter where he ends up, he believes that other teams will one day fear to see him under center. 

"I know what I'm worth," Winston said. "And I know day in and day out, without publicly coming in and saying it, that historically I'm one of the best quarterbacks to play the game."

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Sean Payton looks back on his short stint as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland

Sean Payton looks back on his short stint as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland

Before he was a Super Bowl coach, before he was even an NFL coach, Saints coach Sean Payton was a Maryland Terrapin coach.

For a few months in the offseason at least. 

Maryland coach Mike Locksley hosted Payton on "Late Night With Locks" and remembered that when starting in College Park for the first time, he was told his job depended on what Payton picked - running backs or receivers. Payton, then-Terps head coach Ron Vanderlinden knew at the time, was an up-and-coming star in the coaching ranks who had coached Marshall Faulk at San Diego State and had spent the year before as the quarterbacks coach at Illinois. (Click here to see the press release from when he was hired). 

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"When I got hired at Maryland in '97," Locksley remembered, "I was told it would be either running backs or receivers. It all depends what Sean Payton wants to do. Sean Payton was a coach here from December through Signing Day of '97 and then went out to the Combine and got offered a quality control job with the Eagles and as your moving truck was coming to College Park to drop off a bunch of other stuff ... the moving truck just kept going."

Payton remembered the tumultuous time for the Terps as well. He came to College Park with former Illinois coach Lou Tepper, who was hired as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. "Coach Vanderlinden's trying to put his staff together, it's December, we're recruiting," he said. "And you've got to pick up your stuff on the fly, ready ready. And so you're hustling and one month Coach Tep decides he wanted to wait. And look, that was a big loss for (Vanderlinden) because Tep was like a father to him ... but Lou felt more comfortable going back. So that was change number one."

Three weeks later, another assistant, Terry Malone left for another job to be closer to his father, who was sick at the time.

"So (Vanderlinden) was good and came into the staff meeting and said 'anybody else who wants to get out of here now?'" Payton remembered. "And we're all looking around saying 'this isn't going to affect us.' And three days later I'm like man I'm that person. I was third person out of the bank. You don't want to be the third person out of the bank."

Payton left the Terps for a quality control job with the Eagles, not even coaching a game for the Terps. But he did leave a bit of a legacy, according to Locksley.

In his short time with the Terps, Locksley said, Payton played a role in getting Maryland great Lamont Jordan to play at College Park. 

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Dez Bryant finally has a new home: New Orleans

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Dez Bryant finally has a new home: New Orleans

The long wait for Dez Bryant is finally over. He is now a member of the New Orleans Saints, according to multiple media reports. 

After eight seasons in Dallas, Bryant, 30, was released by the Cowboys on April 13. If Bryant had remained on Dallas' roster for this season, he would have responsible for a $16.5 million cap hit. 

The Ravens reportedly offered Bryant a three-year deal but he turned it down because he did not want to sign a multi-year deal. Baltimore quickly pivoted and signed Willie Snead.

In August, Bryant made an appearance on HBO's "Hard Knocks" when he visited with the Cleveland Browns. 

Cleveland reportedly offered Bryant a one-year deal with a base value less than $5 million. Bryant turned it down.

The "Dez Bryant to insert NFL franchise" buzz went silent for the past couple months until this week.

Bryant now joins a 7-1 football team that just handed the Sean McVay led Rams their first loss of the season on Sunday. 

Michael Thomas has been one of the top wide receivers in the NFL this season (2nd in receptions, 4th in receiving yards) but he is the only Saints receiver with more than 12 receptions (RB Alvin Kamara has 51, TE Benjamin Watson has 26).

Last season in Dallas, Bryant finished with 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns. 

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Bryant got his wish of a one-year deal.

It certainly feels like the Saints are pushing all their chips to the middle of the table to try to give 39-year-old Drew Brees another shot at a Super Bowl.

Regardless of success or failure, Bryant's return to Dallas on Thursday, November 29 should be very entertaining. 

Get your popcorn ready!