The New Orleans Saints plan to use Taysom Hill primarily as a tight end instead of a quarterback going forward, new coach Dennis Allen confirmed Tuesday.
That shouldn’t come as a big surprise, considering the Saints — after pursuing a trade for Deshaun Watson — just signed Jameis Winston to a two-year deal with a base value of $28 million to be their starting quarterback.
Still, it’s noteworthy since Hill spent last summer in an open competition with Winston for the starting quarterback job, which won’t be the case again in 2022.
“I think the role for Taysom really is going to be a lot more of the kind of F tight end, ‘move’ tight end type of role. I think that’s the direction that we need to move with him, because I think he can be one of the best players in the league in that role,” Allen told reporters during the NFL annual meetings in Palm Beach, Florida. “So if Jameis is out there playing quarterback, I don’t really like having Taysom next to me on the sideline. And so I think you’ll see him more in that type of role.”
The Saints have always held that philosophy of not wanting to waste Hill’s versatility on the sideline. So they rarely used him as the designated backup quarterback on game days. Instead, they have used him in read-option packages — at the tight end, wide receiver, running back and fullback positions — and in several special teams roles.
Hill only started games at quarterback when starters Drew Brees or Winston suffered long-term injuries, so it’s unclear if that could remain a possibility for the 31-year-old if a similar scenario arises going forward. But in the meantime, it sounds like the Saints’ vision is to expand on Hill’s other assets.
The former BYU quarterback has been one of the NFL’s most versatile players since he initially joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie in 2017. Hill has started nine games at quarterback over the past two years with an impressive 7-2 record. The 6-foot-2, 221-pounder also has 34 career receptions for 388 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season — plus another five catches for 32 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs. He has 1,183 career rushing yards and 16 rushing TDs.
Hill signed a unique contract extension with the Saints last November that was scheduled to pay him $40 million over four years if he remains in a non-quarterback role, but could be worth up to $95 million if he became the starting QB and reached certain benchmarks .
Winston, meanwhile, expressed multiple times Monday that he is looking forward to being installed as the starting quarterback for an entire offseason instead of competing for the job throughout training camp and the preseason.
“I’m happy that I don’t have to go into training camp with a question of whether I’m going to be leading this team or not,” said Winston, who went 5-2 as New Orleans’ starter last year before tearing the ACL in his left knee. “I think that’s what a lot of people forget when we talk about continuity and we talk about development, I was not named this team’s starting quarterback until a week before we played the Green Bay Packers (in Week 1). And during that same week , we’re migrating to Dallas and coordinating different things and having to move our entire family (to evacuate for Hurricane Ida).
“So me, as an overall leader, to have an impact on this team the way that I wanted to have an impact on this team… it was short-lived. So I’m excited to get that opportunity to have the full reins, to have everything that I need. And hopefully everyone in the building agrees with that too.”