Taysom Hill

Saints, Taysom Hill Agree To Extension

Quarterback Taysom Hill has agreed to a “unique four-year, hybrid…contract extension” with the Saints (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). The deal could pay anywhere between $40MM and $95MM, depending on the position he plays over that span. But, regardless of how he’s used, the deal will furnish him with $22.5MM in guaranteed cash.

Hill will earn $40MM in base salary if he continues in his gadget role. But, if he becomes the Saints’ starting quarterback for the next four years, he could net an additional $55MM, according to Schefter.

The deal is yet another stroke of cap wizardry from Saints GM Mickey Loomis, who already agreed to an entirely voidable four-year, $140MM re-up with Hill in March. We’re still awaiting word on how this latest deal impacts the previous one, but the new deal likely supersedes/replaces the last one. In short, Hill did not receive a true $140MM re-up this spring. Instead, his actual contract for this year includes a $9.7MM signing bonus, a $1.4MM guaranteed roster bonus, and $1.03MM in guaranteed base salary, plus incentives. All together, that’s a shade over $12MM for 2021.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap (Twitter link) suggests that the unique structure could be the result of lucrative incentives. For example, the deal could furnish Hill with a $500K bonus for every game he plays with upwards of 50% snaps at QB, plus another $500K bonus for every win. Still, the exact breakdown remains unclear.

Hill completed 72.7% of his passes last year for 928 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. He went 3-1 while starting in Drew Brees‘ stead, showing a glimpse of his potential. Outside of the traditional QB stats, he finished 2020 with 555 yards from scrimmage and nine rushing and receiving touchdowns.

Through seven games this year, Hill has 20 carries for 104 yards and three rushing touchdowns, plus four grabs for 52 yards. As a QB, he’s completed 7-of-8 throws for 56 yards and one interception.

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Trevor Siemian To Remain Saints Starting QB?

With Jameis Winston done for the season, third-string QB Trevor Siemian has earned the last two starts for the Saints. Even with Taysom Hill fully recovered from his concussion, it sounds like Siemian could retain his starting gig. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the journeyman QB “has an opportunity to remain in place” as New Orleans looks to make a playoff push.

In three games this season, Siemian has completed only 57.7 percent of his pass attempts, but the 29-year-old has thrown for 706 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Sean Payton hasn’t definitively stated a plan at the position moving forward, and while Hill will remain a natural part of the offense, Siemian’s ability to (somewhat) replicate Drew Brees‘ offense makes him the favorite to keep the top spot on the depth chart (per La Canfora).

The Saints made a sizable commitment to Hill this offseason when they inked the Swiss Army Knife to what amounted to a one-year, ~$12MM extension. Hill has already seen four starts at QB this season, completing seven of his eight passes attempts for 56 yards and one interception. He also has 20 carries for 104 yards and three touchdowns, and he’s added another four receptions for 52 yards.

Meanwhile, Winston underwent successful surgery on his left knee last week, per Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com. The surgery repaired a torn ACL and a “damaged’ MCL, and he’s already been released from the hospital.

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Saints To Start Trevor Siemian In Week 9

Trevor Siemian‘s surprise cameo in Week 8 is expected to lead to a start Sunday. The will use their previous third-string quarterback as their starter against the Falcons, Sean Payton confirmed Friday.

While Siemian has more experience than Taysom Hill as a starter, this is still a surprise move. Hill and Jameis Winston competed for New Orleans’ starting job throughout the offseason. Hill did take reps at quarterback this week, per NFL.com’s James Palmer, and should be ticketed for occasional QB work Sunday (Twitter link). Payton confirmed Hill will be in uniform against the Falcons.

[RELATED: Torn ACL Sidelines Winston For Year]

Hill has missed the past three games due to a concussion, but he was a full participant in practice this week. The Saints turned to Hill ahead of Winston when Drew Brees suffered broken ribs last year, and Hill fared well in four games as a starter. The former UDFA-turned-gadget player completed 73% of his passes and averaged 7.7 yards per attempt last season, throwing four touchdown passes and rushing for eight TDs.

The versatile player is in the second season of his 2020 extension, which came after the Saints used a first-round tender to cuff him as a restricted free agent. Siemian, who has started one game since the start of the 2018 season, is attached to a veteran-minimum salary. This is an interesting turn of events for the 5-2 team. Brees confirmed he would not come out of retirement to reclaim the job, though Philip Rivers said he would listen if the Saints called him about the post.

Siemian’s run as the Broncos’ starter ended when they traded him to the Vikings in 2018, following a Case Keenum signing. Since, Siemian has started one game, which came in Week 2 of the 2019 season. The former seventh-round pick suffered a season-ending injury during his one game as a Jet. He spent the 2020 season with the Titans and Saints but did not play. For his career, the Northwestern product has completed 59% of his passes.

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Saints To Start Jameis Winston

The Saints will name Jameis Winston as their starting quarterback to open the year (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Winston, hot off of a strong preseason performance, will lead the charge while Taysom Hill resumes his gadget/wild card role. 

Winston looked strong against the Jaguars on Monday, posting 123 yards and two touchdowns while completing nine of his ten throws. While he was interception-prone in Tampa (to put it politely), he was calm, cool, and accurate in the pocket. Hill, meanwhile, went 11-for-20 with 138 yards and a touchdown. Up until this point, Saints head coach Sean Payton kept a pretty tight lid on his plans.

I’m not going to have weekly or daily updates,” Payton said just last week. “These guys are both working hard.”

Winston now has a prime opportunity to lead the post-Drew Brees Saints offense. He’ll also have a chance to cash in. His modest one-year, $5.5MM deal includes $7MM in incentives, so a strong year could more than double his earnings.

Winston, 27, attempted just eleven passes last year for the Saints. In his last season with the Bucs in 2019, he threw 33 touchdowns while also lobbing an incredible 30 interceptions. This time around, he’s hoping to fix that ratio.

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QB Jameis Winston To Start Saints’ Second Preseason Game

After Taysom Hill started the Saints preseason opener, the team is making a change to their starting lineup. Jameis Winston will start Monday night’s game against the Jaguars, according to head coach Sean Payton (and via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter).

Payton has said throughout the preseason that the team will continue to rotate between Hill and Winston. In other words, we shouldn’t look too much into Winston’s start on Monday. More interesting will be how the team handles both quarterbacks throughout the exhibition; if one of the two players plays primarily with the starters, it could give us a clue into who will be starting Week 1.

As the Saints usher in the post-Drew Brees era, Hill and Winston are the two candidates to take the starting gig. Hill completed eight of his 12 passes for 81 yards and an interception during his start against the Ravens, while Winston completed seven of his 12 attempts for 96 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The team is also rostering Ian Book, who also tossed an interception during the preseason opener.

The Saints still refuse to show their hand at the quarterback position. When asked if any of the players had the lead for the starting job, Payton refused to give any information.

“I’m not going to have weekly or daily updates,” Payton said (via Michael Davis Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “These guys are both working hard.”

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Taysom Hill Favorite To Open Season As Saints’ Starting QB?

Mike Triplett of ESPN.com wrote several weeks ago that Jameis Winston may have the edge over Taysom Hill in this summer’s battle to be the Saints’ starting quarterback. Triplett pointed to Winston’s first-round pedigree, experience, and upside, though he noted that the former Buccaneer would need to clean up the turnover and accuracy issues that led to his exit from Tampa Bay.

However, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe hears that Hill, not Winston, could have the upper hand. Citing league sources, Volin says that Hill’s abilities as a dual-threat talent might compel head coach Sean Payton to open the year with Hill under center. If Hill should falter, it would be easy enough to insert Winston and install a more traditional offense.

Unlike Triplett, Volin is not a Saints beat, but both writers make valid points. In 2020, Winston’s first in New Orleans, it was Hill who got the nod during Drew Brees’ injury-related absence, and he acquitted himself nicely. He went 3-1 as a starter and, over that four-game stretch, he threw for four touchdowns against two interceptions while completing 72% of his passes. He also rushed for four TDs and maintained a YPC average of about 5.4.

On the other hand, Winston, 27, is over three years younger, and he has started 70 games in his career as opposed to Hill’s four starts. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft has also shown plenty of flashes of elite ability, but again, he could never quite shake the turnover bug. In his last season with the Bucs in 2019, he threw an incredible 30 interceptions.

Both Winston and Hill are signed through 2021. In a little more than a week, they will begin their battle for the Saints’ starting job this season, and, perhaps, for a lucrative multi-year contract starting in 2022.

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Saints Notes: Winston, Sherman, Baun

The biggest question facing the Saints this offseason is whether Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill will be the team’s starting QB come Week 1. Mike Triplett of ESPN.com believes Winston may be the frontrunner given that he is younger and has more upside, but the turnover and accuracy problems he had as a member of the Buccaneers are still major issues that he will need to clean up.

Of course, the club has been publicly complimentary of both players, and it was Hill — who also offers dynamic ability as a runner — who got the nod during Drew Brees‘ injury-related absence last year. Hill and Winston will be eligible for free agency following the 2021 campaign, so in addition to the starting gig, there is a lot of money riding on the outcome of this battle.

New Orleans selected former Notre Dame passer Ian Book in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and Book will learn behind Winston and Hill before perhaps getting a chance to throw his hat in the ring in 2022.

Now for more from the Big Easy:

  • The Saints’ record-setting extension for RT Ryan Ramczyk cleared about $5.5MM off their books, leaving them with $10-11MM of cap space. That number could increase if the club extends franchise-tagged safety Marcus Williams, a proposition that we recently discussed. Triplett believes New Orleans will put that money to use by signing a veteran or two, and he suggests that a big name like corner Richard Sherman — who has been connected to the team this offseason — remains a possibility.
  • GM Mickey Loomis is often credited as the man behind the Saints’ aggressive manipulation of the salary cap, and while Loomis has final say over the club’s transactions, Triplett also shines a light on a less recognizable member of the New Orleans front office. In examining the team’s use of backloaded contracts, restructures, and void years, Triplett describes vice president of football administration Khai Harley as one of the most innovative pioneers of those types of cap machinations, and he suggests that Harley could become a GM candidate in the future.
  • Linebacker Zack Baun, who generated some first-round buzz in the 2020 draft before ultimately falling to the third round, played in just 82 defensive snaps in his rookie season. But a hamstring injury suffered in training camp and the lack of a true offseason program hindered his development, and he will have the opportunity to make a bigger impact in 2021. As Sam Shannon of the team’s official website writes, Baun is transitioning from strongside linebacker to the weakside, which will require him to perform well in coverage. His projected ability to thrive in space is what led the Saints to draft him in the first place, and he will compete with second-round rookie Pete Werner for snaps alongside middle linebacker Demario Davis.

Saints Restructure QB Taysom Hill’s Contract

Just moments after Drew Brees officially announced his retirement, the Saints took their cap gymnastics to a new level with one of their other quarterbacks.

New Orleans has restructured Taysom Hill‘s deal to create cap space by giving him a four-year, $140MM extension that entirely voids, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. A source told Schefter that “all years are voidable and it’s a mechanism to free up cap space this year,” with the 2021 cap savings being north of $7.5MM. Before you freak out, Hill isn’t getting a $140MM extension.

The consensus of Saints beat writers online seems to be that the numbers are purely theoretical, and might as well just be random numbers written down on a piece of paper. Cap maneuvering has gotten more and more complicated in recent years, and Saints GM Mickey Loomis has fashioned himself as a wizard.

Virtually every Saints veteran making more than a minimum salary has had their contract tweaked to varying degrees. In a follow-up tweet, Schefter explained that Hill’s actual contract for this year will “include a $9.686 million signing bonus, a $1.439 million guaranteed roster bonus and a $1.034 million guaranteed base salary, plus incentives.”

Thus it appears Hill’s real compensation for 2021 will be somewhere in the $12+MM range, and not the $35MM annually that four-years, $140MM would suggest. We’ll keep you posted if we get a full explanation on the new figures.

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Latest On Drew Brees’ Future

While Drew Brees has been quiet about his future, those close to him believe he’ll hang up his cleats following the season. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport relays that “everybody believes that [Brees] will retire at the end of this season” (Twitter link). The 42-year-old is “hoping for one last run through the playoffs…hoping to end his career on the podium holding a big trophy.”

While we’ve yet to hear anything definitive about the future Hall of Fame’s status going forward, the writing has been on the wall for a while. Brees inked a deal with NBC Sports last April, signaling his post-playing career. The organization also agreed to an extension with Taysom Hill this offseason, keeping their backup QB under club control through 2021. Predictably, GM Mickey Loomis recently said that Brees would be welcomed back if he wanted to continue playing beyond this season, but the executive also revealed that no final decision has been made.

The Saints got a glimpse of what a post-Brees team could look like in 2020. The veteran missed four games, with Hill going 3-1 in his stead. While Hill is better known for his versatile skill set (he finished the season with 555 yards from scrimmage and nine rushing and receiving touchdowns), he showed that he’s capable under center. The 30-year-old finished the season having completed 72.7-percent of his passes for 928 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

It sounds like the Saints are also interested in retaining the third quarterback on their roster. Rapoport reports that the organization would like to re-sign Jameis Winston, noting that the Saints “love what they’ve seen in practice.” While the team has touted Winston’s arm strength and work ethic, they’re still (predictably) wary of his tendency of interception. The former first-overall pick got into four games this season, completing seven of his 11 pass attempts for 75 yards.

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Latest on Taysom Hill, Drew Brees

Today could be the dawn of a new era for the Saints, as Taysom Hill will get the nod at quarterback in place of the injured Drew Brees. Although some were surprised that New Orleans would turn to Hill instead of the considerably more experienced Jameis Winston, the Saints and head coach Sean Payton have made it clear that they see Hill as a long-term starter.

This offseason, the Saints and Hill agreed to a two-year, $21MM extension that keeps the 30-year-old under club control through the 2021 season. $16MM of that money was guaranteed at signing, and though the contract represents a big commitment for a backup QB/Swiss Army knife, it’s a modest payout for a starting signal-caller. And soon after the deal was signed, reports surfaced indicating that the club plans to give the job to Hill if Brees retires at the end of the 2020 campaign as expected.

So, one reason New Orleans is inserting Hill into the starting lineup is simply because it believes in him and thinks he provides the best chance to win in Brees’ absence. The other, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, is that the Saints need to know what they have in Hill.

A source familiar with Payton’s thinking said, “Sean just wants to know,” when asked why the head coach is forging ahead with Hill. After all, Hill has thrown just 18 passes in his pro career, and Brees’ injury gives the Saints a perfect opportunity to see if their faith in the BYU product is justified. If Hill struggles, the club could pivot to Winston, and it could also save $5MM against the 2021 cap by cutting Hill after the season.

Some within the organization do not agree with Payton’s choice, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Winston apparently has plenty of support among the team’s staffers, and Payton himself struggled with the decision. Depending on how things play out over the coming weeks, Winston remains an option for 2021.

As for Brees himself, his injury is even more extensive than previously thought. According to Ed Werder of ESPN.com, Brees has 11 rib fractures — eight on his left side and three on his right (Twitter link). However, doctors have been encouraged by Brees’ progress, including improvement in his lung function, and the 41-year-old passer believes he will be able to come off IR as soon as he is eligible in Week 14 (Twitter links via Werder).

Even if it takes until Week 15 for Brees to return to the field, it sounds like the Saints will have the future Hall of Famer back in time for at least one more playoff run.

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