METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints plan to place a first-round tender on restricted free-agent quarterback Taysom Hill, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday, meaning another team would have to give up a first-round draft pick to sign him away.
The Saints also will have the right to match any offer that Hill might sign with another team after making him the qualifying offer, which is for one year and worth $4.67 million, according to Over the Cap.
New Orleans also still plans to re-sign Hill before free agency officially begins March 18, which if it did, would make the first-round tender moot.
The 29-year-old Hill has become one of the NFL’s most intriguing players in recent years due to his Swiss Army knife role as a read-option quarterback/running back/receiver/tight end/fullback/kickoff returner/special-teams coverage specialist.
The 6-foot-2, 221-pounder has become even more fascinating this offseason, with Saints coach Sean Payton talking him up as a possible successor to Drew Brees.
“I think there’s a process of being a restricted free agent. My agent and I are going through that process, and we’ll see what happens. But I’m in no hurry to leave New Orleans,” Hill said on The Adam Schefter Podcast earlier this offseason. “As I look at my career, I have goals and I have a vision for myself as to what I can be in the NFL. And there has been nothing that has been said, or I’ve never been treated in any way, that would lead me to believe that the vision I have for myself is not the same vision that Coach Payton has for me, as well as the other guys on staff.
“So I’m in no hurry, but I also think that there’s an important element of being a free agent. You finally have the opportunity to sit down and say, ‘What are my goals? What are my visions for myself?’ And then see who shares those same thoughts as you do.”
Hill has attempted only 15 passes in his three-year NFL career — including a 50-yard completion in New Orleans’ playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings in January. He is 7-of-15 passing for 169 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception.
But, including the playoffs, he has run for 410 yards and three touchdowns and caught 25 passes for 265 yards and eight touchdowns.
Hill will presumably become New Orleans’ primary backup, with veteran Teddy Bridgewater expected to leave in free agency. But the Saints also will likely make it a priority to add another experienced quarterback to the roster so they can keep using Hill in his versatile offensive role.
Hill’s best game was arguably his most recent one — that playoff loss to the Vikings, when he completed the 50-yard pass, ran the ball four times for 50 yards and caught two passes for 25 yards, including a touchdown.
Hill got a late start to his NFL career. He went on a two-year LDS church mission to Australia after high school and then spent five years at BYU, where he suffered four season-ending injuries.
But he was impressive enough as a dual-threat quarterback at BYU to finish his career with 6,929 passing yards, 43 touchdown passes, 2,815 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns. He began his NFL career as an undrafted rookie with the Green Bay Packers in 2017 before the Saints claimed him off waivers on cut-down day.
“I still have that same vision, I still have that same goal: to have the opportunity to be that guy for a franchise,” Hill told Schefter. “At the end of the day, I believe in myself. That’s never changed, that’s what I’ve always been. Obviously, with Coach Payton and his creativity, the first few years of my career has gone down a different path. But the vision for myself has never changed.”