How Does Taysom Hill Fit Into This Offseason?

The 29-year-old multi-purpose weapon is suddenly being touted as a future franchise quarterback, can and will Hill draw interest on the open market?
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Thumbing through the news recently one might get the sense that Taysom Hill is lodged right between Tom Brady and the reanimated shoulder of Joe Montana. Overnight, he has gone from passer/tight end/special teams multi-tool with six passing attempts in 2019 (three of them complete) to a quarterback capable of piloting his own franchise. Saints coach Sean Payton has compared Hill to Steve Young and said in a recent interview with NBC Sports that it’s not outside the realm of possibility that, should the Saints slap a first-round tender on Hill, a team would match. Mike Westhoff, the team’s special teams consultant, says Hill throws a better ball than Lamar Jackson.

Given that, it seems teams will be eager to plow down New Orleans’ door at the start of new business right? Right!?

On this week’s edition of The Weak Side podcast, Jenny Vrentas and I play matchmaker with the biggest names set to hit free agency, dive into the Philip Rivers situation and discuss our thoughts on the rebooted XFL. But we also talk a lot about Hill and who might really benefit from the idea that he’s one of the best kept secrets in the NFL. For example, if the Saints re-sign Drew Brees for one more Super Bowl push, wouldn’t it be great to conjure a first- or second-round pick out of thin air, especially given how well they’ve done at finding weapons in the draft? And if Hill were so valuable, why didn’t he beat out Teddy Bridgewater, and why did the team constantly risk the safety of his throwing arm on special teams plays?

In the car, at your desk or on your phone, check out this week’s episode for the best football conversation available on the web and give us some advice for next week’s episode on how to court Brady in free agency….

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Jenny: Conor was getting creative with the pen this week: “I think sometimes you wake up in the morning amid a tornado of strange that you didn't even know was percolating. That seemed to be the case for the Weak Side team. A flurry of discussion materialized on Taysom Hill’s white-hot future as an NFL starting quarterback, as well as Hill’s own proclamation that I definitely view myself as a franchise quarterback. Are we missing something here?” I don't think we're missing anything now. This was quite a banger for Monday morning.

Conor: Like you said, out of nowhere! All of a sudden we woke up—there was what Sean Payton had said about Hill being the next Steve Young, that was in the back of everybody's mind, I think, when that was all happening. But then all of a sudden it was, Well, I would very much like to see an offense built around him. He didn't beat out Teddy Bridgewater for the backup job. And we're talking about him being a legitimate No. 1 quarterback in the NFL. I have two thoughts on this. I think that this very much benefits Sean Payton for somebody to come and take Taysom Hill away and to sign him away and give them the pick in return. He's a restricted free agent. And also, if he's the next Steve Young, why are you having him cover kicks and using his throwing arm to bust wedges? If he's got Steve Young's arm, why are you putting that in harm's way throughout the season?

Jenny: Yeah, those are two excellent points based, entirely, in fact. I mean, it seems like there's been an effort to sort of recast the situation. As you said, if they knew what he was, they would have had him start when the opportunity arose, right? If you have Taysom Hell, and your starting quarterback goes out with an injury and you have this window of time to play someone else, they chose to play Teddy Bridgewater. Now, you could say maybe they didn't realize what they fully had until the playoff game where he was dominant on the field. But then that doesn't make sense. That's too small of a sample size to be basing these wild proclamations off.

Conor: I mean, there are a lot of things about this that I don't understand. The one that blows my mind the most is: It's like drafting a quarterback in college that is playing in this transcendent scheme where every throw that he makes is open because nobody knows how to defend it. It seems like most of Taysom Hill's throws in the NFL were when he was the second quarterback on the field—maybe the data doesn't back that, maybe that's not true. But it feels like, watching Saints games, a lot of times they threw the ball was part of the play where he wasn't the only quarterback on the field. And that does something to defenses. If you're signed to be a franchise quarterback, you're gonna be the only quarterback on the field.

Jenny: Right. It's interesting because in that playoff game, we saw him like running through the Vikings defense, and it was very hard to bring him down. But that does not equate to franchise quarterback. That equates to dangerous offensive weapon.

Conor: Does it feel like we're in crazy town? Especially because the two of us, you know, we were on the Jets beat—and it all comes back to the 2011 Jets. But the formula, this was the same idea signing Tim Tebow. And, you know, if we get in a tough spot, we can convert to this offense and just grind out the yards because no one's going to be able to bring him down. That didn't work nine years ago. It took some ingenuity and it took the Saints having probably a better collection of offensive star power than maybe any team in the NFL did last year. And it took somebody functioning within that offense with same imagination to become the player that he is. And I feel like there's no way that the return is higher than what we saw this year.

Jenny: Right. There's a big leap from a package of plays in which you catch the defense off guard and can do some really interesting things in the offense to being a franchise quarterback.

Conor: What do you think? Does he just end up staying with the Saints?

Jenny: That would be my guess, right? And he's really valuable to them. It's also not a year where there's a shortage of quarterback options on the market.

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