Taysom Hill

South Notes: Saints, Texans, Colts

Taysom Hill is expected to be “the guy” at quarterback for the Saints whenever Drew Brees decides to retire, as Jay Glazer of The Athletic writes. Brees has already signed a post-career deal with NBC Sports, and the 2020 season may or may not be his final year in the NFL, so Hill could be in line to become New Orleans’ starter as soon as next year. The drawbacks on Hill are apparent: he’ll be 31 years old when the 2021 campaign gets underway, and he’s only attempted 13 passes over the course of his career. But the Saints have nothing but shower with him praise in addition to extending him on a two-year pact that includes nearly $17.5MM in guaranteed money and a $16.1MM cap charge in 2021. Per Glazer, New Orleans isn’t attempting a “smokescreen” — the club is comfortable will Hill under center if Brees hangs up his cleats.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

Details On Taysom Hill’s Contract, 2020 Role

Last week, the Saints signed Taysom Hill to a two-year extension worth $21MM ($16MM guaranteed) that will tether him to the team through the 2021 season. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk provides a breakdown of the deal, which features a $1.4MM roster bonus for 2021 that has already become guaranteed and a $10.72MM 2021 salary, $5.72MM of which was guaranteed at signing.

Those details confirm what we already knew: that the Saints are committed to Hill as the successor to Drew Brees in 2021. Hill’s contract, though seemingly rich for a soon-to-be 30-year-old QB who has thrown 13 regular season passes in his pro career, is still modest for a starting quarterback, which New Orleans needs given the dead money charges it will be carrying for Brees for the next few seasons.

Since the Saints have not made their support of Hill a secret, some have wondered why the BYU product did not gamble on himself this year by playing out the season under his first-round RFA tender (worth $4.6MM) and hoping for a franchise tag in 2021. But as Florio observes, if Hill is used more as a RB or WR in 2020, his tag number would come in far lower than the QB tag. Plus, if the salary cap falls in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the non-exclusive tag number — which is driven by the salary cap — would see a corresponding drop.

Speaking of Hill’s usage, Hill himself expects that he will not be used as much on special teams in 2020, as Katherine Terrell of The Athletic tweets. Hill was deployed on 62% of the Saints’ ST snaps in 2019 after an 80% rate in 2018, and that number should continue to decline as Hill’s development as a passer becomes more of a focus. However, we previously heard that New Orleans still plans to utilize his athleticism and versatility to spark the offense.

Hill added that a two-year contract was the best outcome for both sides, and he said negotiations with the Saints began several months ago (Twitter link via Terrell). Other teams did kick the tires on him, but the first-round RFA tender prevented rival clubs from giving him an offer sheet.

The Saints also signed Jameis Winston to guard against the possibility of a Hill injury, but it looks like Winston’s tenure in New Orleans will only last for a season (unless he chooses to re-up as Hill’s backup in 2021). In light of Andy Dalton‘s new contract with the Cowboys, Winston’s modest deal with New Orleans looks like a win for the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Extend Taysom Hill

The Saints have agreed to a two-year contract with quarterback Taysom Hill, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, the deal is worth $21MM and includes $16MM in guarantees (Twitter link). It replaces the one-year RFA tender worth $4.6MM that the Saints had placed on Hill earlier this offseason.

The move comes immediately after the Saints agreed to sign free agent signal-caller Jameis Winston. Prior to the Hill extension, both players would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2020 campaign, meaning that New Orleans could take the entire season to evaluate them, to decide which one was best-suited to serve as Drew Brees‘ successor, and to move on from the loser of the battle at season’s end.

Now, however, that’s not necessarily the case. If Hill should prove himself worthy of the QB1 title in 2021, then the Saints will have him under contract at a very modest rate for starting quarterbacks and can bid Winston farewell. But if Winston should win out and if New Orleans should retain him, then the team will owe a ton of money to its QB2/gadget player, even by its standards of commitment to backup signal-callers. The whole affair could become even more complicated if Brees wants to return, and it suggests that the team really is committed to Hill — as it has stated for some time — and views Winston as a highly-experienced insurance policy in 2020 but not as a potential future option.

Per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Saints won’t officially sign Winston until after 3pm ET tomorrow in order to avoid having him against their 2021 compensatory pick formula (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Hill, Saints, Giants, Herbert, Long, Falcons, Reiff, Vikings

The Saints used a first-round RFA tender on Taysom Hill. However, the gadget player/backup quarterback is not expected to sign it in the near future, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. Hill will, however, participate in New Orleans’ virtual offseason program, per Florio. RFAs have until June 15 to sign their tenders or teams can rescind them and pay 120% of their 2019 salaries. No noise on a potential Hill offer sheet surfaced this offseason, but Drew Brees‘ backup did say he was open to leaving New Orleans if he felt the Saints would not give him an opportunity to start. Despite coming into the league in 2017, the BYU alum will turn 30 this year. It’s been widely reported that the Saints intend to have Hill take over whenever Brees hangs up his cleats. Hill stands to make $4.7MM this year on the first-round tender.

  • An NFL exec called the Giants‘ belated (and somewhat bizarre) Justin Herbert interest “a smokescreen that isn’t working,” Matt Lombardo of NJ.com notes. A report surfaced Monday indicating the Giants had done a lot of work on the Oregon product, but another pointed to the obvious: the team will not use its No. 4 overall pick on a quarterback. Only twice in the past 38 years has a team drafted QBs in back-to-back first rounds — the 1982-83 Baltimore Colts and the 2018-19 Cardinals. Instead, the Giants are believed to want to trade down, per the anonymous exec, but are not finding enough interest.
  • Had Chris Long not signed with the Patriots in 2016, the Falcons would have been his choice, the recently retired defensive end said during an appearance on FS1’s First Things First (via NBC Sports Boston). Chris Long visited the Falcons during an offseason that saw other teams pursue him as well. However, Long’s father, Hall of Famer Howie Long, advised him to choose the Patriots because of their winning pedigree. The Patriots ended up beating the Falcons in overtime in Super Bowl LI. Chris had spent his first eight seasons with the Rams and never been to the playoffs. With the Patriots in 2016 and Eagles in 2017, Long ended up winning two Super Bowls.
  • Rumored as a potential cap casualty, Riley Reiff remains on the Vikings. However, the team could look to find another left tackle early in this draft, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. Former Vikings coach Mike Tice does not think much of Reiff at left tackle, his primary NFL position. Reiff did, however, play guard at Iowa before moving outside during his Hawkeyes tenure. The Vikings have an opening at right guard, having released Josh Kline earlier this offseason. Minnesota holds two first-round picks — Nos. 22 and 25 — but without a trade-up will not be in range to land a top-tier left tackle. The team also features bigger needs at cornerback and wide receiver.

NFC South Notes: Hill, Brate, Walker

The Saints expect Taysom Hill to take over for Drew Brees when Brees calls it a career, and to that end, they placed a first-round RFA tender on the BYU product earlier this month. Teddy Bridgewater had served as the backup to Brees over the past couple of seasons while Hill’s role as a gadget player grew, but head coach Sean Payton confirmed that Hill will be the QB2 in 2020. “He’s earned that opportunity,” Payton said (Twitter link via Jeff Duncan of The Athletic).

However, the team still expects to use Hill as a rusher and receiver next season, so Payton said New Orleans will add another QB that will be active on game days (Twitter link via Duncan). The Saints are expected to explore a long-term contract for Hill in the near future.

Now for more from the NFC South:

  • Cameron Brate‘s recent restructure with the Buccaneers is better classified as a pay cut. Per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Brate accepted a decrease in his 2020 salary from $6MM to $4.25MM (Twitter link). The move will keep Brate, a quality red zone target, in the fold for Tom Brady while buying the team a little more cap space.
  • Several days ago, the Panthers beat out several clubs for the services of XFL signal-caller P.J. Walker. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle says Walker’s pact with Carolina is a two-year deal worth $1.565MM, a pretty nice haul for an XFLer who has yet to crack an active roster in the NFL (Twitter link).
  • CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson‘s new one-year deal with the Falcons includes a base salary of $1.05MM and a singing bonus of $137.5K, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets.

Saints To Place First-Round Tender On Taysom Hill

The Saints clearly don’t intend on letting Taysom Hill go anywhere. New Orleans is planning to place a first-round tender on the restricted free agent, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Hill can still sign an offer sheet with another team, but the Saints will have the opportunity to match it. If they declined to do so, the offering team would have to give the Saints their first-round pick. It’s extremely rare for a team to be willing to give up a first-round pick for a restricted free agent, but Saints coach Sean Payton said recently he thought a team would still make an offer for Hill even if they put the first-round tender on him.

To that end, it sounds like the Saints are going to move quickly to extend him so that it doesn’t get to that point, as Schefter reports they “plan to re-sign him soon anyway.” Assuming they agree to an extension before free agency opens, it’ll be very interesting to see what that deal looks like. The reporting all offseason has indicated that the team views Hill as Drew Brees‘ eventual successor, and this move further confirms that.

The former gadget player has taken on an increasingly large role on offense, and that figures to only get larger in 2020. Hill threw only 14 passes last season, but Payton seems to have all the confidence in the world in him. In a separate tweet, Schefter notes that the first-round tender for quarterbacks is expected to be worth around $5MM in 2020, but that the team is confident they’ll have a deal done soon. Given how they’ve talked about him, he’ll likely blow past that number with any extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Notes: Hill, Stafford, Winston

Saints quarterback/athlete Taysom Hill has been the center of quite a bit of early offseason buzz. While the free-agent quarterback class is highlighted by the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees, a third-string quarterback, who threw just 14 passes last season, has dominated conversations. Hill has sparked a fervent debate around whether he has a future as a franchise quarterback, or is just a valuable weapon to deploy in certain packages. In an in-depth look at the situation, Katherine Terrell of The Athletic, dives into his circumstances and makes the case for Hill.

Here are some more quarterback notes from around the league:

  • Some early offseason murmurs suggested that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could be on the trade block. Detroit general manager Bob Quinn was quick to shoot down the reports. Of course, it would not be the first time a personnel official has denied a player’s availability before subsequently moving them. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press analyzes the decision from all angles to make the case in favor and against keeping Stafford.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports argues that the Buccaneers need to find a way to keep free-agent quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston, of course, became just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions (joining Vinny Testaverde). There’s no denying that Winston has had his flashes on the field, but a history of off-field issues and a historic propensity for turnovers make the decision far from straight forward.

Latest On Saints, Taysom Hill

The Taysom Hill momentum has continued to the point Sean Payton expects his gadget quarterback to receive an offer sheet, perhaps even if the Saints apply a first-round RFA tender to Hill.

Drew Brees has not confirmed he will return yet, but signs point to the league’s all-time passing kingpin coming back for his age-41 season. The Saints, assuming they can retain Hill, would have a chance to prepare for a potential Brees-to-Hill transition plan. If the Saints tender Hill as a first-rounder and do not match an offer sheet, they would receive that team’s 2020 first-round pick.

Yeah, I think someone is going to make him an offer,” Payton said during an appearance on The Peter King Podcast (via NBC Sports). “But the first thing the fan has to understand is … if we tender Taysom as a one, the team that makes the offer on him and signs him to an offer understands they’re going to give up a first-round pick if we don’t match. That’s easier to do if you’re pick 22, 23, 24, 25. We might very well see it if it’s a team in the second half of the [first round].”

Even being tendered at the first-round level would represent a remarkable rise for Hill, a 29-year-old ex-UDFA with 13 career regular-season pass attempts. Hill, however, has proven immensely valuable for New Orleans. He’s frequently taken snaps and either logged carries or given handoffs to Saints running backs in what’s been a more complex New Orleans ground game. Hill also caught six touchdown passes this past season.

Despite only entering his fourth season, the BYU alum will turn 30 before Week 1. He believes he has franchise-quarterback talent and wants to play for a team that categorizes him as such.

I definitely view myself as a franchise quarterback,” Hill said, via the Associated Press’ Rob Maadi (audio link). “I think as you look at the other questions — is it New Orleans? Is it somewhere else? — as you go into free agency, this is the time that you start to find out how people view you.

… I think as you get to free agency there’s no denying that I love my time in New Orleans. I love coach Payton; I love [OC] Pete Carmichael. Do I want to leave? The fact of the matter is, no, I don’t. But as you look at free agency, you have to find the right opportunity for you. You have to find the situation to take care of your family. I want to play quarterback in this league, and if New Orleans doesn’t view me that way, then I have to leave.”

A first-round tender will likely bump Hill’s salary north of $5MM next season. Payton has said it is unrealistic to bring back Brees, Hill and Teddy Bridgewater for next season. Given all that’s come out of New Orleans early this offsason, Hill is probably the best bet to be Brees’ backup in 2020 — if the 19-year veteran returns. Hill is due to be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Saints’ QB Situation

The Saints may have a long-term plan that includes a Drew Brees-to-Taysom Hill baton pass. This may leave Teddy Bridgewater out of the equation.

Bridgewater turned down a chance to become the Dolphins starter last year, instead re-signing with the Saints on a one-year deal worth $7.25MM. The former first-round pick again is free agency-bound, but Sean Payton does not appear to envision another year with the Brees-Bridgewater-Hill troika together. The 14-year Saints coach said it is “unrealistic” to bring all three back, per Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Although Bridgewater helped the Saints to a 5-0 mark as a starter while Brees recovered from injury, the 27-year-old passer may be closer to one of the free agency dominoes than set for another year as Brees’ backup. The priority appears to be Hill, who is a restricted free agent.

If Brees comes back to start a possible multiyear transition to Hill, the Saints are expected to place a first-round RFA tender on the latter, Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano of ESPN note. The 2019 first-round tender price was $4.4MM.

It would represent a remarkable rise for the ex-UDFA to receive the rare first-round tender, and it may remain a slight stretch to envision Hill becoming a surefire quarterback option. The unique passing-rushing-receiving weapon has only thrown 13 career passes. The prospect of a 2021 Brees-to-Hill transition makes more sense because sources informed Fowler and Graziano that Hill may not be ready to handle being New Orleans’ starter in 2020. This would shift the focus to Brees, whose retirement talk is believed to be genuine.

A BYU alum, Hill will turn 30 before Week 1 of next season. Brees recently turned 41. Brees has said he is not going anywhere else; the future first-ballot Hall of Famer will play for the Saints in 2020 or retire.

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Latest On Saints’ Drew Brees

Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he isn’t bothered by the prospect of ceding snaps to Taysom Hill (Twitter link via Chris Simms of PFT). Brees is still deciding whether he’ll return for another season, but a larger role for Hill won’t dissuade him from playing.

[RELATED: Saints Planning Transition To Taysom Hill In 2021]

If I’m back, and Taysom’s along side me, call the plays that puts us in the best position to win. If that means Taysom Hill is taking 30 snaps a game, 25 snaps a game, so be it. I’m all for that,” Brees said.

The Saints would like to have Brees back for a bridge year, allowing them to make a smooth handoff to Hill for 2021 and beyond. Brees, 41, is on board with that plan, if he decides to play.

Brees, of course, has nothing left to prove in the NFL and has already earned more money than he could ever hope to spend. Over the next month or so, he’ll weigh his options, which include a potential career in broadcasting.

Brees completed a league-high 74.3% of his passes in 2019, marking his third straight year at the top of the category. In his injury-shortened eleven-game campaign, he threw for 2,979 yards with 27 touchdowns against just four interceptions. In the regular season finale against the Colts, Brees connected on 29 of 30 passes and set the NFL’s new record for touchdown throws.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.