Taysom Hill has zero TD passes. Now he’s the NFL’s second-highest paid backup quarterback.

Charles RobinsonNFL columnist
Yahoo Sports

There is the definition of betting on the come — essentially, wagering on future success — and then there is the extremely ambitious investment the New Orleans Saints just made in Taysom Hill.

The franchise’s third-stringer behind Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater in 2019, Hill landed a deal on Sunday that is slated to pay out $21 million over the next two years. It includes $16 million in guaranteed money, along with incentives that could generate an additional $1 million.

If that sounds pricey for a backup quarterback, it’s because it is: Only the Indianapolis ColtsJacoby Brissett has a higher average salary as a backup quarterback, coming in at $15 million. It’s worth noting that Brissett hauled in that salary when he was slated to be the Colts’ starter last season — after piecing together some solid results at the position in New England and Indianapolis.

But Hill? He has 13 regular-season passes in his first two years in the league, zero touchdown throws against one interception and a grand total of 119 passing yards. Instead of a traditional role, his impact has come as a jack-of-all trades on special teams and some combination of running, passing and catching the football in the Saints’ offensive scheme.

New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill runs during the a game against the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/carolina/" data-ylk="slk:Carolina Panthers">Carolina Panthers</a> at Bank of America Stadium on Dec. 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill runs during the a game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Dec. 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

That has been enough for Hill to cash in with Brees believed to be entering his final season of a Hall of Fame career. Needing to groom a successor for Brees gave Hill the leverage for a sizable raise this offseason from his one-year salary of $4.64 million in 2020. With the two-year deal effectively replacing his current one, Hill will essentially have $16.3 million tacked onto 2020 and 2021, bringing his average salary up to nearly $10.5 million.

Those numbers are important because they suggest how the Saints are viewing Hill over the next two years. If you parse out the raise and focus it through a potential Brees retirement, it essentially means that Hill will be a $4.64 million gadget player in 2020 — before ascending to a $16.3 million starting quarterback salary in 2021.

In the wider view, it’s suggestive that Hill will continue to be developed as a passer and multitalented offensive piece next season, then elevated into the throne Brees is expected to leave behind next year.

That’s a remarkable gamble on a player who has seen mostly a gadget role at QB over his first two years in the NFL. It’s also a roll of the dice the Saints have been adamant about taking since Hill showed so much promise in various parts of the scheme last season.

It won’t come without a battle as free agent Jameis Winston is expected to sign a bargain-level deal in the coming days. Adding Winston to the fold will give head coach Sean Payton maximum competition for the backup role, while setting the stage for where the Saints will ultimately go at quarterback when Brees departs.

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