The Saints gave quarterback-of-all-trades Taysom Hill a two-year, $21 million contract in the offseason. The question is whether the money was spent on a player the Saints plan to use accordingly, or whether the contract represents a downpayment on the ability to make him the starter whenever Drew Brees retires.
Based on the first week of the 2020 season, it seems to be the latter. On the field for 25 percent of the offensive snaps and 36 percent of the special-teams plays, Hill had three carries for 13 yards, one reception for four yards, and a garbage-time pass on a gadget lateral from Brees for 38 yards, to Alvin Kamara.
Those are all reductions from the last time we saw Hill, in the wild-card game against the Vikings. Hill participated in 41 percent of the offensive snaps and 84 percent of the special-times play. He ran the ball four times for 50 yards, caught two passes for 25 yards, and threw one pass for 50 yards.
With receiver Michael Thomas expected to be out for several weeks, Hill becomes one of the candidates to replace some of the production of the player who caught 149 passes last year, especially since Thomas operates roughly 25 percent of the time from the slot. But if the plan is to use Hill sparingly in order to keep him healthy and to continue his development during practice as a passer, logic points to seeing him in smaller doses.
If, at some point, Hill will be on the field for every snap, it makes more sense to see him on the field more than once out of every four. Given that he’s making $10.5 million per year, it makes sense to see him more often than that.
Regardless of whether he’s being groomed to succeed Brees, Hill routinely pops when given the chance to participate. If the Saints hope to move the ball and score points effectively without Thomas, Hill may need to be involved more than he was last Sunday.