SALT LAKE CITY — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has likened Taysom Hill to Steve Young. There are some who believe Hill is the heir apparent to All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees with the Saints.
Perhaps it’s little surprise, then, that the former BYU quarterback received something no other restricted free agent in this year’s NFL free agency class did: a first-round tender.
It was a move that was reported more nearly two weeks ago and became official Wednesday, when the league announced its 510 free agents this year, as the NFL opened its new league year at 2 p.m. MDT.
What that means is if a team wants to sign Hill away from the Saints, they’ll have to give up a first-round draft pick to do so. New Orleans will still have the option to match any offer sheet Hill receives to retain the player who’s become a valuable utility player on offense and special teams. The deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets is April 17.
The 41-year-old Brees, who reportedly contemplated retirement following the 2019 season, agreed to a two-year, $50 million deal to return to the Saints on Tuesday, per ESPN, and potentially serve as a mentor yet again to Hill, who turns 30 in August.
“A testament to how much the Saints value QB Taysom Hill: he was the only restricted free agent in the NFL to receive a first-round tender,” ESPN’s Field Yates wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “That pays him $4.641M in 2020 if no new deal is worked out.”
Hill wasn’t the only former Cougar in restricted free agency to get a tender from his team. The Los Angeles Chargers placed a second-round tender on cornerback Michael Davis on Tuesday. Davis entered the league the same year as Hill in 2017, both as undrafted free agents.
Davis has emerged as a key piece in the Chargers secondary, particularly over the past two seasons. In 2018, he had 50 tackles and eight pass deflections while starting nine games, then added 39 tackles, nine pass deflections and his first two career interceptions last season while starting 12 games.
Becoming unrestricted free agents
Four locals who were exclusive rights free agents did not receive a qualifying offer or tender from their previous clubs, making them unrestricted free agents when the new league year began. They include cornerback Fish Smithson (Highland High, previously with Baltimore Ravens), safety Kai Nacua (BYU, previously with Indianapolis Colts), running back Devante Mays (Utah State, previously with Jacksonville Jaguars), and wide receiver Marcus Kemp (Layton High, previously with Kansas City Chiefs). Kemp won a Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs last month.
Other local free agent news
Nate Orchard, DE, Utah and Highland High: On Wednesday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Orchard will return to the Washington Redskins on a one-year contract. He signed with the Redskins in late November 2019 and had 14 tackles, one sack and a pass deflection in five games for Washington. The 27-year-old is heading into his fifth NFL season.
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, Timpview High: On Wednesday, ESPN’s Ben Baby reported Su’a-Filo agreed to terms on a three-year, $10 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Su’a-Filo spent the past two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys on a two-year, $1.64 million contract, per Spotrac, before becoming an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Su’a-Filo spent four years with the Houston Texans from 2013-17, then an offseason with the Tennessee Titans before landing in Dallas. He started 12 games over the past two seasons for the Cowboys, including four last year at left guard, before ending the 2019 season on injured reserve when he suffered a high ankle sprain and fractured fibula in week 16.
Tim Patrick, WR, Utah: On Tuesday, the Denver Broncos placed a low-round tender on Patrick, an exclusive rights free agent. Patrick had 39 receptions for 533 yards and a touchdown for the Broncos over the past two seasons while missing half of last season with a broken hand. As an exclusive rights free agent, which is any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract, he cannot negotiate with other teams.
Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State: Fackrell is headed to the New York Giants on a one-year, $4.6 million deal, according to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter. Tuesday’s news signaled the end to four seasons with Green Bay for Fackrell, a 2016 third-round pick of the Packers. The unrestricted free agent had his most successful season in 2018, when Fackrell finished with 42 tackles and a team-high 10.5 sacks.
Bryan Mone, DT, Highland High: The Seattle Seahawks placed a tender on the second-year defensive tackle Tuesday, per the NFL.com transactions list. Mone spent time on both the active roster and practice squad in Seattle last year after going undrafted, playing in four games with four tackles.
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU: Van Noy agreed to a four-year, $51 million deal with the Miami Dolphins on Monday, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Van Noy earned two Super Bowl rings playing for New England the past 3 1/2 seasons and $30 million of the contract will be guaranteed, Rapoport reported. Van Noy, an unrestricted free agent, had 56 tackles and a career-best 6.5 sacks to go with three forced fumbles and three pass deflections for New England last season.
Dallin Leavitt, S, Utah State and BYU: The Las Vegas Raiders placed a tender on Leavitt on March 12, per the NFL.com transactions list. He’s spent the past two years with the Raiders organization after going undrafted, playing in 17 games and recording 10 tackles.