Taysom Hill is in no hurry.
He speaks like a person who has a feel for his future. He wants to be the Saints’ quarterback. You can tell the passion he has for the job, but he also isn’t in a hurry to push anyone out of the door. This is a guy who is the ultimate team player, the one who has been willing to put the team’s needs over his own vision for his career.
That won’t change. The fire is burning, but Hill knows how to channel it for good. He’s too grateful for the help he’s received from Drew Brees to ever truly want to get him out of the way. And he seems to really believe in the vision the Saints have for him since he feels no type of way about Jameis Winston being brought in to serve as a backup quarterback.
“Coach (Sean Payton) and I had a conversation before free agency hit, kind of what his plan was for me,” Hill said. “I had had multiple conversations following that and I knew that we were always going to bring in another guy. I didn’t know who it was going to be, but no surprise there. I think Jameis is a good football player and he’s a good quarterback and I think nothing has changed for the New Orleans Saints.”
Here are a handful of notes and thoughts on Taysom Hill’s new deal and future with the Saints.
Taysom gets a fair deal
Both the Saints and Hill should feel pretty good about the deal they were able to strike that will pay the quarterback $21 million over two years, with $16 million guaranteed.
“I think this contract creates a clear trajectory and opportunity for me to compete and be the guy in New Orleans in 2021 if Drew decides to be done,” Hill said. “If not, we’ll figure out another contract, or my role will continue to be the way it is.”
New Orleans is paying Hill for some of its belief in him as a quarterback, but he’s probably worth something close to $6 or $7 million per season in his current role. New England pays Matthew Slater close to $3 million per season just to serve on special teams. Add in Hill’s ability as an offensive weapon, and the value probably should double before even considering his potential at quarterback.
For Hill, this allows him to put some money in the bank while his on-field performance as a quarterback remains somewhat of a mystery. Perhaps he could have made a little more money by hitting the market next offseason by forcing New Orleans to retain him on a franchise tag. Still, that situation might have led to a battle over which position he plays (sound familiar?) and gotten ugly. Probably not worth it when Hill could easily lose that battle. Take the money now and see where things are at in 2022.
The deal, if nothing else, allows him to avoid free agency and positions him to compete for the job if this is Brees’ final year. If it isn’t, Hill could look elsewhere for an opportunity.
Taysom wants to change his role
Hill wants to focus more on being a quarterback and have more of a role on offense next season. The special teams stuff, if he has it his way, will get dialed back.
The good news is, the role Hill wants is probably the ideal scenario for him. He wants to get used like he was during the playoffs against Minnesota when he played five snaps at quarterback, two at running back, 10 as an inline tight end, three in the slot and three split out wide. Hill finished the game with 50 yards passing, 50 yards rushing and 25 yards receiving.
“In terms of snap count and creativity and stuff like that, as I look into 2020, that’s my vision for it,” Hill said.
Last year, Hill played 241 snaps on offense and 287 on special teams. His snap count on special teams was the fourth-highest total on the team.
The quarterback did admit that having some financial security makes it a little easier to play multiple positions and be physical. However, he still wants to be a quarterback above all else. Hill continues to work primarily as a quarterback during the offseason instead of the other aspects of his multifaceted role.
However, through doing that, it has helped him grow as a receiver and route runner.
“I’m still learning all of that. Like that’s still a foreign thing for me,” Hill said. “But I do think playing quarterback, and we talk about it in our install meetings, and my mindset is if I was playing quarterback, I want to run the route the way I would want somebody to run it. Or if I’m playing quarterback, I’m going to get to where I would want a tight end or receiver to be if I was quarterback.”
Taysom believes he can start
Hill was very bluntly asked whey he believes he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL even though he’s only thrown 13 passes during games.
Here is his response:
“Look, I know what it takes to be a good quarterback. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from Drew. I think what makes a great quarterback is decision-making, accuracy, arm strength. I feel like I have all those, the capability to do all those things at a high level. You look at it, and a lot of people have been critical of the number of balls that I’ve thrown is as you’ve mentioned or completions or whatever it is, but at the of the day I look at my career in the NFL, and I’ve done my best to take advantage of every opportunity that I’ve been given. Because I’ve thrown 13 passes or whatever that number is isn’t indicative or that does not mean that I’m not capable of doing it. I feel capable of doing it. I trust in coach Payton’s system and his process, and I hope to have the opportunity.”
The team believes. Hill believes. The rest of us will have to wait and see. The preseason should be entertaining.
Taysom will wait his turn
At one point, Hill said he would welcome Brees back in 2021 even if it meant he wouldn’t be able to start. That would mean Hill would be 32 when he finally has a chance to start for a team. So, later in the conversation, he was pressed on that statement and reminded of his timeline.
Here’s what he said:
“Drew’s been so good to me. I don’t think that I would be the quarterback that I am today without Drew. He’s been a great friend, a great mentor. He’s allowing me to follow him around and learn from him, and he’s one of the greatest to ever do it. And I will not be part of the reason why he retires. That’s not right, I will not ever put any pressure on him that way, and again, I genuinely hope that he plays for as long as he can and as long as he wants to and I told him before the season was over, I was like, man, I don’t want you to retire, and if that means that I have to go somewhere else to get an opportunity, I’m okay with that. But that’s genuinely how I feel.”
There are a lot of hints that this is Brees’ final season, but until he actually walks away, you never know.
(Photo: Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)