Saints giving J.T. Barrett a chance to prove himself

New Orleans Saints

J.T. Barrett went undrafted, but the New Orleans Saints seem intent on giving him a long look.

In the undrafted free agent frenzy that takes place after the NFL draft, former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was reportedly headed for a tryout with the Indianapolis Colts. But a quick pivot has come, with Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reporting Tuesday Barrett has signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network has added it’s a three-year deal, which is rare for an undrafted free agent to get. But Barrett had interest from multiple teams, and even with no guaranteed money in the deal he’ll get an opportunity to compete with Tom Savage and Taysom Hill for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Drew Brees.

When the Saints traded up the No. 14 pick in the draft last week, it was assumed they were moving to get Lamar Jackson as their heir apparent to Brees. But they instead took UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport, in a move to further bolster a defense that was much-improved for most of last season.

Barrett has some work to do to become a legitimate NFL starting quarterback. But there aren’t many places for better tutelage than he’ll get in New Orleans, under Brees and Saints’ head coach Sean Payton. He operated in a far different offensive system than Jackson and Josh Allen, with all the accuracy concerns those two carried into the draft process, but Barrett completed 63.5 percent of his passes during his career at Ohio State with a 35-6 record as a starter.

This side of Tony Romo, you’d be hard-pressed to find a starting quarterback with any staying power in recent NFL history who was an undrafted free agent. The jury is out on Case Keenum, as he looks to carry on the momentum of a breakthrough season with a new team this year, but that 2017 campaign looks sure to stand as his career year.

Leaving aside any lazy stereotypes that are out there, Barrett’s skill set is close to Jackson’s as a dual threat if that’s the direction the Saints want to take their offense post-Brees. And it will only cost them a non-guaranteed contract to get a look at Barrett, rather than a contract slotted to a first-round pick and the multiple draft picks it cost to move up almost half of the first round.

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