SALT LAKE CITY — Taysom Hill is staying in New Orleans even longer, a situation the former BYU quarterback said “worked out perfect.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that the Saints re-signed the versatile former signal caller to a two-year, $21 million contract extension that includes $16 million full guaranteed at signing, with another $1 million in performance incentives.
Schefter also reported it’s essentially a one-year, $16.3 million extension of the first-round tender the team placed on Hill earlier this offseason that was worth $4.6 million.
Hill, who was a restricted free agent this offseason, said the conversation about this deal started a couple months ago.
“Both sides agreed early on that a two-year deal made a lot of sense for everybody and we mapped out what that would look like. And then it was starting to get into the nuts and bolts of the contract. I’m very happy, I’m grateful and again, I think it’s a fair deal,” Hill said during a media conference call streamed on the Saints’ official Twitter account.
This keeps Hill with the Saints, who later confirmed the two-year deal, through the 2021 season.
“I’ve had this dream since I was a little kid of playing in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints made that dream a reality, and over the past 3 years I’ve had the opportunity to play with and for some of the best men I’ve ever known,” Hill said in a message on Instagram Sunday morning. “I am humbled and grateful that my wife, future son, and I get to continue living our dream in the city we love, with the people we love! Thank you NOLA!”
Hill said that while his agent had conversations with other teams during the process of free agency, the conversation mainly centered around remaining a Saint, after New Orleans placed a first-round tender on him. That meant if another team were to try and sign him away, they would have to relinquish a first-round pick if the Saints didn’t match the offer.
“I think the first-round tender made it difficult for someone to make a run at me. At the end of the day, my wife and me always wanted to stay in New Orleans. This worked out perfect,” he said.
“As we looked at it, this was a way to prevent me from being able to get to free agency next year. It created some structure for me and my family as well as the organization.” — Saints quarterback Taysom Hill
It’s a significant pay upgrade from his rookie undrafted contract. Hill originally joined New Orleans after being waived by the Green Bay Packers during final cuts in 2017. His three-year rookie contract with the Saints was worth just over $1.6 million, per Spotrac.
Hill has learned under 13-time Pro Bowler Drew Brees during his time in New Orleans, and Hill expressed excitement in February when the 41-year-old Brees announced he was returning for the 2020 season.
“As you look at long-term contracts in terms of guaranteed money and what that looks like, this contract creates a clear trajectory and opportunity for me to compete and be the guy in New Orleans if Drew decides to be done,” Hill said. “As we looked at it, this was a way to prevent me from being able to get to free agency next year. It created some structure for me and my family as well as the organization.”
This all comes amid reports that New Orleans is working out details to sign veteran free agent Jameis Winston. It would be a one-year deal, Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported.
“As for his role, the sources told Yahoo Sports that Winston’s signing won’t guarantee him the backup job behind starter Drew Brees. Instead, the best case scenario for Winston may ultimately be competing for the No. 2 quarterback spot with Taysom Hill,” Robinson wrote.
Winston was the first overall selection by Tampa Bay in the 2015 NFL draft. He became an unrestricted free agent this offseason, after throwing for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns last season while also committing 35 turnovers (30 interceptions, five lost fumbles). NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Winston turned down a more lucrative offer to learn from one of the game’s top quarterbacks in Brees, who led the Saints to the Super Bowl XLIV championship and has been the starter in New Orleans the past 14 seasons.
Earlier this offseason, Saints head coach Sean Payton said Hill had earned the right to be the backup in New Orleans and would serve in that capacity this upcoming season while also retaining his utility role on offense and special teams. Payton also stressed the need for the Saints to bring in an experienced veteran quarterback, a role Winston would fill.
Teddy Bridgewater served as Brees’s backup the past two seasons — even filling in as starter for five games last year in replace of an injured Brees — before signing a three-year, $63 million contract with Carolina this offseason.
“Coach and I had a conversation before free agency hit, about what his plan was for me. I knew we were always going to bring in another guy,” Hill said. “I didn’t know who it was going to be. But no surprise there; Jameis is a good football player, and a good quarterback.
“Nothing has changed for the New Orleans Saints. The goal has been and will always be to win the Super Bowl. I trust coach Payton.”
And the Saints appear to trust in Hill. The contract makes Hill the second-highest paid backup quarterback in the NFL in average yearly salary, at $12.5 million, behind only Indianapolis’ Jacoby Brissett at $15 million, Robinson reported.
“We love the prospect of Taysom Hill and what he might be able to do for us in the future,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Friday, according to NOLA.com’s Amie Just.
In his three seasons in New Orleans, Hill has played a variety of positions for the Saints on offense while also excelling as a special teams ace — he has 12 career special teams tackles and has blocked a punt.
Hill has appeared in 37 regular-season games for the Saints, and the dual-threat quarterback has 64 career carries for 352 yards — a 5.5 per-carry average — with three touchdowns. He added a new wrinkle to his offensive game last year, catching 19 passes for 234 yards and six touchdowns.
During New Orleans’ wild-card playoff loss to Minnesota in January, Hill showed off his versatility, completing a 50-yard pass to rookie Deonte Harris to set up a touchdown. He also had four carries for 50 yards and two receptions for 25 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. He added a special teams tackle while playing 23 offensive snaps and 27 on special teams.
Hill’s passing statistics are minimal, though, at this point in his career: he has 15 total pass attempts, including the postseason, completing 7 for 15 for 169 yards.
While admitting it’s difficult to get a crystal-clear picture on his role with the team moving forward right now, Hill envisions he’ll work less on special teams.
“The plan would be to probably limit some of the things that I was doing from a special teams standpoint and the role will be more focused at the quarterback position and then finding ways to involve me offensively,” he said.
“I look at what we did against Minnesota last year and in terms of snap count, creativity, stuff like that, and as I look into 2020, I think that’s kind of my vision for it.”
On Saturday, the Saints added another quarterback to their roster when they traded back into the final round of the 2020 NFL draft to select former Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens, who himself drew comparisons to Hill.
“He is a player we kind of followed throughout the full draft process,” Payton said, per the team’s website. “We’ve seen him at quarterback and we’ve also seen him do a number of different things, kind of in that ‘F’ tight end role. We think he’s a real good athlete. We kind of have a vision that’ll start with quarterback, but a little bit much like Taysom’s.”
Hill said he’s already had a conversation with Payton about the new quarterback.
“I think that’s an important mindset that Tommy has, to come in and be willing to contribute in any way that he possibly can to help us win football games. I think he’s doing it the right way,” Hill said.