MONDAY, 10:39am: Ian Rapoport of NFL.com provides some specific details on Hill’s new contract, tweeting that it’s worth $7.1MM over three years, with a max value of $8.15MM via incentives. As noted below, it includes $3.25MM in guarantees.
FRIDAY, 3:13pm: The Saints have officially retained tight end Josh Hill, exercising their right of first refusal and matching the offer sheet he signed with the Bears on Tuesday, the team announced today (via Twitter). New Orleans will bring back Hill on the terms of that deal he signed with Chicago.
ESPN’s Mike Triplett and Adam Caplan provided several details on Hill’s offer sheet from the Bears earlier this week, reporting that the three-year deal can be worth up to $7.5MM, and features $3.25MM in guaranteed money.
Hill had already counted for $1.671MM on the Saints’ books for 2016, so if the first-year cap hit on his new deal is higher than that – as it almost certainly will be – it’s another contract New Orleans will have to squeeze under its cap. Having also confirmed a three-year deal for linebacker Craig Robertson, the team figures to announce a corresponding release or contract restructure soon, in order to create cap room for the new additions.
Hill, 25, is coming off a career-high 16-catch season, though he averaged just 7.5 yards per reception. The three-year veteran set personal marks in yards (176), YPC (12.5) and touchdowns (five) during a 14-catch showing in 2014. Prior to signing with the Bears, whom he met with Monday, Hill visited the Jets last week.
By bringing back Hill, the Saints have now signed three tight ends to new contracts this month — Coby Fleener inked a five-year deal to replace Ben Watson as the team’s No. 1 tight end, and Michael Hoomanawanui agreed to a three-year pact to return to New Orleans. Hill will join that duo to create plenty of pass-catching and blocking options for the Saints’ offense.
As for the Bears, they still have Zach Miller and Rob Housler among their tight end options, but the team may look to fortify the position in free agency and/or the draft.
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