Saints’ Sean Payton believes Buccaneers threw game to get Jameis Winston

When the Buccaneers signed future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, the Jameis Winston era in Tampa Bay officially ended. But Saints coach Sean Payton – his new HC – believes there only was a Winston era because the Bucs tanked to get him.

“Heck, they lost a game on purpose to us at the end of the season prior with [head coach] Lovie Smith,” Payton said in an interview with CBS Sports. “They forced Lovie to take his starters out of the game so they could get the one spot to draft Jameis.”

It was the final game of the 2014 season and the Buccaneers, who would lock up the No. 1 spot in the draft with a loss, led the Saints 20-7 at halftime. But in the fourth quarter, Smith took out several key starters, and the Saints reeled off the game’s final 16 points to win, 23-20.

“The guys you saw in the first half, the game plan was for them to be in there. The second half, we wanted to look at some more football players,” Smith told reporters after the game. “I think that’s not out of the realm of possibilities, to look at some other guys. We’re not going to the playoffs and we have a comfortable lead and we’re going to run the football.

“One win wouldn’t have helped an awful lot. We’re going to feel better when we’re winning our division. Until then, we don’t feel good about a lot except for knowing our roster a lot better and knowing the direction we need to go. If we had won today, we would’ve felt better about this game, but the season as a whole, that’s not where we want to be.”

Payton believes the Buccaneers did end up where they wanted to be – holding the No. 1 pick in the draft.

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