Like his enigmatic NFL career, Taysom Hill’s latest contract with the New Orleans Saints is certainly unique.
It also poses some issues for a Saints team facing plenty of financial and personnel questions this offseason — not the least of which includes finding a new coach.
On Tuesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Saints’ Sean Payton is stepping down after 15 years as the franchise’s head coach. He played a vital role in Hill’s development in New Orleans.
Before the Payton news, Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine took a look at the worst contract for every NFL franchise heading into this offseason, and he explains why Hill’s new deal — worth a reported $40 million over four years, and could increase to over $90 million if he becomes the team’s starting QB over the next four years — is the Saints’ worst.
“Taysom Hill has one of the most unique contracts in the NFL. It makes some sense given his unique skill set,” Ballentine wrote.
“The Saints essentially signed him to a deal that will pay him like a running back or wide receiver but has the potential to be more in line with a franchise quarterback.
“Hill’s deal carries $21.5 million in guarantees. With incentives and potential base salary escalators based on him being a productive quarterback, it could be worth up to $94 million, according to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry.”
Hill, the former BYU dual-threat star who’s been used as a utility player at a variety of skill positions and on special teams during his NFL career because of his athleticism, is coming off a whirlwind year in his fifth NFL season, all with New Orleans.
He battled with Jameis Winston last offseason to replace the now-retired Drew Brees as the Saints’ starting quarterback only to have Winston win the job.
Winston then suffered a season-ending injury midway through the year, tearing his ACL.
Hill didn’t immediately earn the starting QB job, though, as he was dealing with his own set of injuries.
Trevor Siemian instead replaced Winston for four games, and the Saints lost all four.
Hill eventually was handed the starting job, and finished the year with a 4-1 record as the starter.
He completed 58.2% of his passes for 978 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions, while also rushing for 374 yards and five touchdowns.
Hill’s future was further complicated, though, when he suffered a Lisfranc injury in the team’s season finale, an injury that is expected to keep him in recovery for several months.
There will be plenty of questions for New Orleans to answer at the quarterback position this offseason.
Both Winston and Siemian will be unrestricted free agents, and combined with Hill’s Lisfranc injury, some NFL draft experts believe the Saints could use a first-round draft pick on a quarterback.
That all leaves New Orleans with some uncertainty it may need to solve regarding Hill.
“All of this would make sense if Hill was a young quarterback who has shown signs that he can be a full-time passer. But he’s 31 years old and is coming off a season in which he threw just four touchdowns to five interceptions,” Ballentine wrote.
“On March 19, the contract will become guaranteed through 2023, meaning the Saints are essentially locked in to be paying a 33-year-old quarterback who still feels like a project. That’s a scary proposition given how much of his success has been dependent on his athleticism.”