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Taysom Hill’s role in a Jameis Winston-led offense

After losing the quarterback battle, what’s next for Taysom Hill?

NFL: New Orleans Saints Training Camp Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Jameis Winston is going to be the starting quarterback of the New Orleans Saints heading into the 2021 season.

It was a fairly straight-forward process. Winston went into the season as part of a competition to win the spot, he impressed in the preseason and thus is being rewarded with the first man with a shot at being the heir to the Drew Brees era in the Big Easy. However, that leaves another big question as we approach the start of the 2021 campaign.

Where does that leave Taysom Hill?

The former BYU man is entering his fifth season as part of Sean Payton’s plans, and while he’s come a long way since playing special teams during the 2017 season. Hill was among the group contending for the starting quarterback spot that was given to Winston. After signing a 4-year, $140 million extension in the 2021 season, it was presumed that Hill would be the starter for the season. However with Winston starting the season under center, Hill’s in a bit of a limbo. So, what can we expect from Taysom Hill this coming season?

The easy answer is that Hill just keeps being the gadget player that he’s been for most of his New Orleans career. In 2018 and 2019 combined, Hill played 78% of his offensive snaps at either tight end of as a slot wide receiver. With the Saints lack of depth at both of those positions, having Hill back in those spots could provided a needed boost to the passing game. His 2020 numbers ended up skewed even taking into account the games in which he started in place of an injured Drew Brees, charting just 48% of snaps in the aforementioned positions in games started by the Saints’ #9. With Winston starting at quarterback in 2021, Hill could see his production as an inline blocker and slot receiver increase back to 2019 levels of production.

Taysom Hill Snaps by Position

Position 2018 2019 2020
Position 2018 2019 2020
QB 64 41 328
HB/FB 12 22 27
TE 62 85 46
Slot WR 28 72 63
Outside WR 43 44 27

The other option is the more conventional, albeit much less fun answer. Hill spends the majority of games riding the bench in anticipation of a potential Jameis Winston injury, or the more likely option, the potential Jameis Winston Interception Circus. Winston’s last starting season did see him throwing for over 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, but with 30 interceptions to go along with it. It’s unclear just how much of a leash Sean Payton will give him, particularly after what’s surely an inevitable back-breaking, game-losing interception that Winston is sure to throw at some point in the season.

Either way, expect to see the Saints “Swiss Arm Knife” on the field at some point. After all, his cap hit is the 4th biggest on the team, so for a cap-strapped team, Hill needs to see the field with regularity for the extension to not be an absolute albatross on an already hurting team.

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