The Saints didn’t waste time giving Taysom Hill a restructured new contract as Drew Brees made his retirement official. Hill remains the presumed replacement full-time starter for Brees in 2021, but at the same time, New Orleans has flexibility to make him compete for the job.
The main objective of Hill’s four-year, $140 million extension was to create much needed salary-cap relief for this season. Hill had been previously under contract for one year at $16.3 million, with $16 million guaranteed and a $8 million signing bonus.
Hill’s new deal gets him $12.159 million all guaranteed for 2021, now with an extra signing bonus of $9.686 million. Hill’s base salary is only $1.034 million and the bonus is spread over five years, with around $1.9 million per season allotted from 2022 through 2025. All the years of contract are voidable and there would be no dead cap money cost to the Saints to get out of the deal after two years.
The bottom line is Hill costs the Saints now only $8.4 million against the cap in 2021, saving them around $7.5 million. He also carries only about a $7.7 million cap hit for 2022. The Saints wouldn’t clear any cap by cutting Hill after one season, but they also would eat only that future $7.7 million in dead money.
The Saints aren’t suddenly investing $35 million a season in Hill based on the imagined annual average. In fact, in many ways they are investing less. Brees also had restructured before his retirement to cost the Saints only $12.225 million toward the cap in 2021 while staying on the roster until June 1 — after which his absence will create another $1 million in cap space.
Hill has promise as New Orleans’ regular dual-threat QB after a strong stint replacing an injured Brees in 2020, showing off a big arm along with his natural dynamic athleticism. Hill went 3-1, throwing for 928 yards and 4 TDs to only 2 INTs, with a healthy 7.7 yards per attempt and a robust 98.8 passer rating. Over the whole season, he also racked up 588 yards from scrimmage as a runner and receiver, with 9 more TDs.
But as much the Saints and Sean Payton love Hill in their offense, he’s still a long-term wild card ahead of his age 31 season. With New Orleans well on its way to being cap compliant now, is better positioned to bring back Jameis Winston on another bargain, incentive-filled contract. Hill’s adjusted deal also shouldn’t shut the door on the Saints drafting a QB early, at either No. 28 overall in the first round or No. 60 overall in the second round.
The Saints went through a lot of salary maneuvering with general manager Mickey Loomis, but in the end, they are a playoff team in transition on the brink of a major rebuild. In replacing a legend such as Brees, Hill has a great opportunity to open the door for true mega contact. At the same time, the Saints aren’t investing too much in uncertainty and leaving the door open to go quickly in a different direction.