Payton declined to elaborate on whether Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemian would become the Saints’ starter heading into this week’s home date with the Atlanta Falcons and beyond — saying that he knows it will be “the $6 million question.”
But Payton insisted multiple times that the Saints don’t plan to bring in a new quarterback.
“We’re satisfied with the quarterback room,” Payton said of a group that also includes rookie fourth-round draft pick Ian Book.
Hill, 31, would be the most likely choice if he was healthy – since he went 3-1 as a replacement starter for Drew Brees last year and battled Winston in an open competition for the job this summer. However, Hill has been sidelined by a concussion since Week 5.
“He’s doing well. He’s progressing. He’s on schedule. And all that’s good,” Payton said of Hill’s recovery. However, when asked if Hill will be ready to play this week, Payton said, “We’ll see.”
“We’re gonna look closely at what’s best for our team in this game. And as the week progresses, we’ll see how we want to play it out. And we’ll be ready to play Sunday,” said Payton, who said the first phase of the game plan is usually formulated by the end of Tuesday night. “We’ll grind away at the plan, pay attention to the information we’re getting from the training room, all of that, and be ready to go.”
Siemian, 29, is also an obvious candidate to start for the Saints after his admirable performance in Sunday’s win. He entered with the game tied 7-7 and completed 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown and no turnovers. Siemian is 13-12 in his career as a starter, going 13-11 with the Denver Broncos from 2016-2017 and 0-1 with the New York Jets in 2019.
“Man, he did a good job,” Payton said after reviewing the tape Monday. “There were a number of plays where he’s got a free rusher and he gets the ball out on time. I thought he played with poise and made good decisions. It’s what you want someone to do that’s coming into the game really without a lot of work, and I thought he handled the situation well. The tape was good for him.”
Payton said after Sunday night’s game that he cried when he saw Winston in the postgame locker room.
Winston, 27, was working to revive his career with the Saints after spending his first five seasons with the Buccaneers from 2015-2019 and spending last year as a backup behind Brees and Hill in New Orleans.
“We definitely were encouraged (by Winston’s performance this season),” Payton said of Winston – who was 95 of 151 passing (59%) for 1,170 yards with 14 TDs and three interceptions. “We felt like, man, we’ve seen the arm strength, the leadership, all those things. We talk about all the time, ‘They’re gonna evaluate you on your record.’ And, shoot, he was 4-2. It wasn’t always perfect, but absolutely (we were getting what we hoped). Someone that had become a vital part to what we were doing.”
Winston was injured after White pulled him down by the shoulder area of his jersey, forcing him to land awkwardly. Winston’s left leg got pinned behind him as he hit the turf. Trainers and medical staff examined him on the field before helping him limp slowly to the sideline and into the medical tent. He was later assisted onto a cart and driven back to the locker room.
Payton said Monday that it was “a classic field-turf injury.”
“I don’t think that happens on grass,” Payton said. “I know right now the data says a player is 28% more likely to have a player injured when we play on artificial surfaces, and I think this was one of those cases.”