Sean Payton is gone. Gone with him is the era of Taysom Hill, the quarterback — officially, at least.
Hill, the sixth-year Saints veteran who's spent his career as a gadget player in New Orleans, enters the 2022 season officially listed as a tight end. He's nowhere to be found on the quarterback depth chart.
The position switch arrives under the leadership of first-year head coach Dennis Allen, who takes over for Payton after spending the last seven seasons as the Saints defensive coordinator. Hill addressed his new role on Tuesday. He understands the switch. But he didn't sound happy about it when asked if he's at peace with the decision.
"I don't know," Hill told reporters. ... "I'm at peace with knowing how the league works work. Things aren't up to me.
"I'm willing to do what I need to do to help us win football games. I'm at peace with that and helping, knowing that I'm contributing to us winning games. I love playing, and so it creates opportunities for me to add value and be on the field and compete."
So, why the switch? Allen explained the decision while speaking with reporters in March. He believes that Hill can thrive as a tight end and doesn't want to create a distraction for starting quarterback Jameis Winston.
"I think he can be one of the better players in the league in that role," Allen said of Hill playing tight end. "If Jameis is out there playing quarterback, I don’t really like Taysom standing next to me on the sideline. I think you’ll see him more in that type of role.”
Hill has made sporadic appearances at quarterback in his five seasons with the Saints, including nine starts over the course of the last two seasons. He was officially listed as Winston's backup in 2021 and filled in for him when he was injured. For his career, he's completed 64.2% of his passes for 2,025 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.
So are his quarterback days completely in the past? Hill said that he believes he'll still have opportunities to line up behind center. But he's no longer part of the quarterback meetings that he used to attend.
"That's the nature of the NFL," Hill continued. "This isn't necessarily what I want. It's what's best for the team and I'm good with that."
As for the tight end position, Hill is facing a steep learning curve. He had to learn to play out of a three-point stance early in training camp.
"I've never done that before," Hill said. "Like I said, we started from ground zero, and we just started building from there."
He does believe that his experience at quarterback will give him an edge at the position — in the pass-catching role, at least.
"I kind of just do what I would want a tight end to do if I was playing quarterback for that rep," Hill continued. "I've taken that mindset into the tight end position."
As for blocking on run plays? That part of the job will likely be a shock to the system of a player used to being around the ball.
"There's certainly a mental element to (tight end), but a far more physical element to play in that position than the quarterback position."