Taysom Hill is smiling a lot more after today, but is more grateful than anything right now. The New Orleans Saints and Hill were able to negotiate a contract extension announced on Sunday that will keep him with the team through the 2021 season. Hill cashes in on a two-year deal that includes $16 million in guaranteed money, a great present for him and his expecting wife Emily.
Hill said that contract talks started months ago between him and the Saints, and both sides agreed early on that the two-year contract made sense and was a fair deal. Other teams were interested, but Hill said it was New Orleans the whole way through. The first-round tender made it difficult for other teams to make a run at Hill, and at the end of the day, he and his wife always wanted to stay in New Orleans. It also gives him a great opportunity to compete if Drew Brees wants to retire.
"I think this contract creates a clear trajectory and opportunity for me to compete and to be the guy in New Orleans in 2020 if Drew decides to be done," Hill said on Sunday.
"If he's not, then we'll figure out another contract or my role will continue to be the way that it is. And so, as we looked at it, this was a way to prevent me to get to free agency next year, and it created some structure for both me and my family as well as the organization."
Hill says that he and Brees had a lot of conversations early after the season was over navigating the future, and wasn't hesitant to say that it's better for the NFL if Brees was starting and playing for the New Orleans Saints, and he's all for it. After this season, that opinion won't appear to change for Hill.
"If he comes back, then I'm his biggest fan," Hill said.
A lot has been made of what Hill's role with the team will look like in 2020, and that currently looks like limiting some of the things that were done from a special teams standpoint. Hill said that the role will be more focused at the quarterback position, but find ways to involve him offensively, citing the utilization, snap counts, and creativity against the Vikings last season.
"I think a lot of my workouts and primary focus is being the best quarterback that I can be, but I'm still hyper-focused on becoming faster and stronger and all of those things. So I think that that's a natural carryover to running routes and stuff, and look 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, my mindset is if I was playing quarterback, I want to run the route that 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."
As for bringing in Jameis Winston to the quarterback room, that's not a shock to Hill. He said that he and Sean Payton had a conversation before free agency, and knew that the team was already going to bring in another guy. He just didn't know who. Hill spoke highly of Winston, saying that he's a good football player and good quarterback. However, nothing's changed for the Saints and their goal of winning a Super Bowl, and Hill ultimately trusts Payton.
Hill knows what it takes to make a great quarterback, and believes that he has the traits to make it happen. He reiterated during the Zoom call and has said it before that he wouldn't be the quarterback he is today without Brees, and genuinely hopes that No. 9 plays as long as he wants to and can.
"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.”
A lot of Hill's teammates have reached out on social media to congratulate Hill, which have included Demario Davis and Cameron Jordan. However, there's far more.
"I've had a lot of people reach out, a lot of teammates reach out and congratulate me, which is what it's all about. Again, part of the gratitude that I felt is the love and support that I felt from the community, from my teammates. It's been a really special day for my wife and I.”
At this point, we can only look forward to what August brings, which is hopefully the Saints returning to gear up for another NFL season.