Contemplating the future for Taysom Hill
The do-it-all man for the Saints is a restricted free agent.
Does anyone really believe that New Orleans will not retain Taysom Hill?
Though not a betting person, I would be willing to bet my paid for home that Hill will be a Saint in 2020. For that matter, Hill should be a Saint for many years to come.
While just three years into his NFL playing career, Hill is no spring chicken.
He is more of a summer delight, blossoming in the fall months of the year as an outstanding NFL player.
Therein lies the dilemma.
What is Hill to the New Orleans Saints?
We know he is the consummate jack-of-all trades.
Unlike many who fit that description, he is a master at virtually everything he does.
Hill covers kickoffs extremely well. He is the best punt rusher, responsible for multiple punt blocks and many other pressures. He is an excellent lead blocker on the edge on offense. He is an outstanding runner from the quarterback spot. He has displayed a strong arm, with the ability to push the ball down the field on offense. He has become an outstanding receiver.
Where do you go from here with Hill if you are Sean Payton?
If you truly believe that he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL, when is that going to occur? He is 29. The life-span of playing in the NFL is certain for many, though quarterbacks are playing deep into their 30’s, even their 40’s (see Drew Brees, Tom Brady).
With regard to Brees, the expectation is that he will return and why not?
Yes, Brees is in the winter of his brilliant career.
While not the best quarterback in the league, at this point, Brees remains an elite quarterback. He is conservatively a top 10 player at his position and perhaps still top five. Brees led the league in completion percentage again in 2019 and nearly broke his own record. He was second in the league in quarterback rating, behind only Ryan Tannehill.
Then, there is the league trend.
Lamar Jackson is poised to become the 2019 Most Valuable Player. Russell Wilson figures to finish second in that department. Deshaun Watson has become a star. Patrick Mahomes is the most talented quarterback in the league.
In recent years, Cam Newton won the league MVP award.
They all have one thing in common.
All can throw the ball effectively, accurately and push the ball down the field.
Just as importantly, all can extend plays and damage defenses immensely with their ability to run the football.
You can say the same about Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen and Dak Prescott.
Hill is that type of guy.
He is a physical runner. He is a fast runner. He is a gifted runner. Defenses must account for such quarterbacks, typically by taking a player out of coverage and spying on the quarterback to guard against him taking off for big yards.
The questions remain about the most intriguing player on the New Orleans Saints roster.
Would you trust him with the keys to the kingdom if you are Sean Payton? Is he your future quarterback?
While the speculation surrounds whether Brees signs another short-term deal or not, the next logical step and the constant discussion is whether Teddy Bridgewater will be here next year.
If Brees returns, the odds of Bridgewater returning decrease dramatically.
Bridgewater got the resume building audition he needed when Brees was hurt in 2019. In the process, he proved he can still play in the league and start in the league, leading the Saints to a 5-0 record.
No, it was not all about how well Bridgewater played.
The defense stepped up big-time in that stretch. The Saints found a running game. Bridgewater was not asked to carry the team.
What he did was to manage the game well and protect the football while making the throws he needed to make, what every coach desires of a quarterback.
Bridgewater can start in the NFL. He is a solid player, a solid person and respected teammate.
Bridgewater is younger than Hill at 27. He is 22-12 as an NFL starter. He completed 67.9 percent of his passes, throwing nine touchdown passes with just two interceptions this season.
If Brees surprises virtually everyone by deciding not to return to the Saints in 2020, Bridgewater would be a safe, solid investment to hand the keys to.
If you build a good enough roster around him, you can succeed.
Of course, whether Brees or Bridgewater returns, the Saints clearly need another playmaker on offense.
Of course, if Hill were to be that quarterback at some time in the future, he gives you another playmaker as a runner. Can he do so as a passer? Can he throw accurately enough? Can he read defenses well enough?
When, or better yet, will you find out?
It is a dilemma.
Do you maintain the unprecedented role Payton has defined for Hill?
The evidence reveals there is tremendous value in that role.
With Hill doing what he has done, he saves you a roster spot, if not two. If he is your quarterback, that is not the case.
Hill got a late start on his NFL career due to serving a Mormon mission and his vast ability was short-circuited at BYU due to numerous injuries which curtailed his visibility, availability and productivity.
Based on what we watch now, it is hard to believe that he was an undrafted player.
Hill was amazing this season.
In the regular season, he completed 3-of-6 passes for 55 yards, rushed 27 times for 156 yards and a touchdown and caught 19 passes for 234 yards and six touchdowns.
In the playoff game with Minnesota, he was sensational, giving the Saints a chance.
He completed his only pass for 50 yards to Deonte Harris.
He rushed four times for 50 yards, forcing five missed tackles on those runs with all resulting in first downs.
He caught two passes for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Of course, that was all on offense.
On special teams, he had a huge blocked punt against the Falcons this year, just as he did to change a game in Tampa a year ago.
The dilemma is obvious.
Do you bring back your Hall of Fame quarterback who will be 41 next season? How much can you afford to pay him? How long of a contract will you award him?
The answers are yes, well but not at the highest level in the league and for no more than two years, preferably one year.
Do you try to convince Bridgewater to return as the bridegroom in waiting?
The answer is yes, with the full understanding that Teddy is ready to have a chance to start somewhere in the NFL and may depart.
Do you retain Hill and take a serious look at him as a quarterback?
The answers are yes and yes.
As Brees takes one more shot at reaching the promised land and getting that elusive second Super Bowl championship, give Hill more reps, more playing time in the preseason and more snaps at quarterback in the regular season.
Further discussion and speculation is that the Saints should invest in a quarterback early, perhaps in the first round, in the 2020 draft.
With the 24th pick overall, your chances of getting Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert or slim and none and slim just left the door, unless, of course, you are willing to trade major assets to move up in the first round. Do you really believe in Jake Fromm and Jacob Eason?
If you love Hill in his current role and doubt his ability to be a good NFL starting quarterback, bring him back, give him a new contract and keep him as your Swiss Army Knife while doing everything you can do to convince Bridgewater to return. If you believe in Hill’s ability as a quarterback, that is a different story.
As I have stated previously, the New Orleans Saints had the best quarterback room in the NFL this past season. Now, it is time to sort it out, to set the future beyond No. 9. That may start with No. 7.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…