We could be looking at one of the biggest free agency periods in recent memory if some of the notable names actually hit the open market. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Derrick Henry are just a few of the big names set to hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens on March 18th. One or more stands a good chance of signing a contract with their current team before then, but there is a chance one or more is taking calls when the tampering period opens on March 16th.
Regardless of their statuses, plenty of lesser known free agents could be finding new homes. One of the more intriguing is New Orleans Saints quarterback/jack of all trades Taysom Hill.
2019 in review
Hill has been a unique weapon in the NFL for three seasons, and now the Saints will have to decide whether they’ll keep him in 2020. The Swiss army knife is listed as a quarterback, but is also valuable as a return man, running back, and receiver. He only threw for 55 yards in 2019, but also rushed for 156 yards and a score while hauling in six touchdown catches. Is he Drew Brees’ heir apparent, or would he be better suited on a new team?
Hill might be the first legitimate triple-threat signal caller the league has ever seen, but can he actually run a team? He’s only thrown 13 passes in the NFL and doesn’t have the body of work to command a starting job. Whether teams are willing to pay a utility player of his nature remains to be seen.
Some teams could opt to take a chance on Hill, and the Miami Dolphins could be in the running. They’re expected to pursue Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 draft, but the signal caller could need some time to recover from the hip injury that ended his college career. The team probably won’t win a ton of games this upcoming season anyway, so why not experiment during the rebuilding period?
Do the Saints want to keep him?
Whether Hill is in New Orleans’ long-term plans is still murky because he is a restricted free agent. Head coach Sean Payton seems to be in favor of signing Hill to a long-term deal, but general manager Mickey Loomis has yet to make a commitment to the signal caller. The Saints have a ton of options to consider. They can grant Hill a long-term extension, let him walk uncontested, or apply three different one-year tenders.
The least costly option is an original-round tender, which would see Hill paid $2.1 million in 2020, according to Over The Cap. New Orleans would also get the right to match any offer sheet he gets from suitors. A second-round tender would cost $3.2 million, but the Saints would gain a second-round pick should Hill decide to leave. The final option would be first-round tender that’s valued at around $4.6 million. Should another team lure Hill away by matching that price, New Orleans will bring in a first-round pick in return.
The Saints could try to talk Hill up in an attempt to raise his value and bring in the highest possible draft pick, as they only have around $9.3 million in cap space and still need to re-sign Drew Brees. New Orleans will likely have to wait and see if teams around the league have genuine interest in Hill before it makes a decision. Paying him more than what young starters like Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, and Patrick Mahomes are slotted to make in 2020 would be a significant investment. Hill will turn 30 this season and hasn’t started in an NFL game.
It’s hard to see a situation where Hill would be a starter, so he has little value in season-long fantasy leagues. That could change if he’s thrown into the fire following a major injury to whoever is in front of him, but that’s a big if. At this point, Hill is a flex play with tons of upside, but all sorts of downside. Not many players can score in as many ways as Hill can, but he lacks the week-to-week consistency it takes to be a priority.
NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero stated that, “It would stand to reason they’re gonna give Hill either a first or second round tender.” This doesn’t guarantee he returns, but suggests potential value.
One team that’s an under-the-radar candidate to land Hill is the New England Patriots, according to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman. They’re still waiting in the wings to see if Tom Brady returns for another season and could need an insurance policy behind Jarrett Stidham. Hill would have a legitimate shot to run a team with tons of playoff success and prove that he can be a franchise quarterback. It’s an interesting possibility, for sure.