This off-season, Hill signed a two-year, $21 million contract. A huge upgrade for the Saints talisman who has career earnings just over $1 million to this point.
The financial reward for Hill is well-deserved. Sean Payton‘s do-it-all warrior does not possess league-leading stats to warrant his salary bump, but what Hill gives the Saints is an uncanny ability to make big plays, in big moments, in multiple different ways, that win football games.
The back-up quarterback first burst onto the scene in 2017 playing with the special teams unit on kick-offs, racking up four total tackles in coverage.
Since then, the Saints back-up quarterback has excelled as a rusher and enjoyed a major leap in production as a receiver in 2019. Accounting for seven total touchdowns on the ground and through the air.
It goes beyond the touchdown numbers, though. Hill has become the beating heart of the Saints offense. He’s earned his team 41 first downs as a runner or a receiver over the past two seasons. His versatility solves roster problems. Taysom Hill is a backup quarterback, running back, receiver, and special teamer.
However, there’s a new gadget guy in town. A new toy in Payton’s box to play with. A 6’5″, 235-pound new toy.
The Saints traded back into the seventh round of the 2020 NFL draft to nab Tommy Stevens with the 240th overall selection. The former Mississippi State quarterback was coveted by Payton.
And Payton is wasting no time in getting tricky with his new gadget.
Stevens was listed as a tight end this week by his new team. It’s no surprise Payton wants to coach him up in a position the seventh-round pick can use his size and athleticism to his advantage.
Make no mistake though, Stevens could be used in multiple packages in this Saints offense. Splitting time at quarterback with the Bulldogs in 2019, Stevens earned a 136.8 rating, throwing 11 touchdowns in the process. On the ground, Stevens scored a total of 14 rushing touchdowns through his college career.
There’s even precedent for Steven’s receiving potential. At Penn State, where Stevens played the first three seasons of his college career, he caught two touchdown receptions in the 2017 season.
Overall though, Steven’s college stats would not turn many heads if it weren’t for the versatile nature of his production. In fact, he was expected to go undrafted in April, if Payton had not become aware of Steven’s agreement to sign an undrafted contract with the Carolina Panthers post-draft.
This agreement led to the Saints working the phones to find a trade partner. The Minnesota Vikings were willing to dance, and New Orleans landed their man late in the draft. Now Stevens can learn from the original do-it-all QB Taysom Hill, in a position Payton claims he essentially invented.
Stevens will have to earn his playing time in 2020. Hill’s current contract is worth $21 million. However, if Sean Payton believes his new gadget can win his team games, he will not be scared to play him on important downs.
This is the coach that has taken the ball out of his future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees in crucial situations over the past two seasons. In favor of tricky personnel packages with Hill lined up at quarterback, or as a runner.
Sean Payton found a gem in Hill. His latest project could be the latest wildcard on a Saints offense that specializes in creating mismatches that are a nightmare for defenses across the league to handle.
Tommy Stevens might not turn into the new Taysom Hill. But he will be given every opportunity to contribute from Day 1.