Saints' Taysom Hill 'super positive' about role in new offense

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METAIRIE, La -- Taysom Hill has gone into multiple offseasons without a clear picture of what the New Orleans Saints want him to do when the games begin.

When new offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak joined the team in February, one of his first tasks was to outline Hill's role for 2024. After a sit-down, Hill said he came away from the conversation feeling "super positive" about the team's vision for the veteran.

"I feel like Klint came in and had a really clear, distinct vision of what we were going to be offensively and how good we can be," Hill said. "I feel like he came in and has coached with a ton of detail, which has been really nice. I love the way that he's approached it, you know? I feel like I'm a detail-oriented guy. I like to know what to do versus different looks and that's very much how he coaches."

A clear vision doesn't necessarily mean just one focus for Hill, who has had an evolving role in the offense since he was claimed off the Green Bay Packers roster in 2017. As Hill enters his eighth NFL season, he knows there are more surprises in store with Kubiak and the new scheme.

"It's been a lot of fun," Hill said. "It's weird to say after seven years of doing what I've been doing, that I'm being asked to do things that I've never done before. But I think that is exciting. That is exciting to me. And it's challenging and I love to be challenged like that, so, man, I'm grateful for those guys for creating unique opportunities and fun opportunities for me."

Hill was initially a core special teams player -- a jack-of-all-trades for a few seasons -- and then a potential starting quarterback when he competed with Jameis Winston for the starting role in 2021. Hill lost out on that role in training camp that year. In 2022, coach Dennis Allen moved him to tight end.

His tight end label only lasted a year; the Saints moved him back to quarterback in 2023, likely done to take advantage of a new rule that allows teams to play a third quarterback who was listed inactive on game days if the two other quarterbacks can't play.

What will Hill do in 2024? Perhaps only Kubiak and Hill truly know. Even tight ends coach Clancy Barone said he didn't know if Hill would spend most of the season in the tight ends room.

"I wish I knew the answers," Barone said with a smile. "Stay tuned."

Hill has already played various roles during the two OTA practices open to the media in May. In one, he had his hand in the dirt as a fullback. Hill has had less than 20 snaps at running back, according to TruMedia.

In another practice, he was being utilized as a receiving tight end.

"Taysom has been phenomenal here early," Kubiak said at the beginning of OTAs. "We've been kind of moving him in a lot of spots, as he's done his entire career, really intelligent guy. So, looking forward to ... giving him a lot of volume early and then we'll start narrowing it down as we get closer to the season."

Allen said Hill won't be moving into a full-time fullback role like San Francisco 49ers' Kyle Juszczyk, who could be deployed as a blocker but also excelled in the short-yardage passing game and had two receiving touchdowns last year. Kubiak worked with Juszczyk in San Francisco last season. But Allen said the new offense will definitely give him some new opportunities.

"I think Taysom Hill can flourish in any role he embraces," Allen said. "I think there's a lot of things he can do. I think there's going to be a learning process that goes along with this, but there's a lot of different things that he can do. And I wouldn't say a lot of it is totally different from some of the things he's done in the past for us. I think with a new staff in here and a new scheme, we're going to look at ... OK what can Taysom do and where can we utilize him in this scheme where he can help us win football games?"

It's unusual to see a player evolve in his career at Hill's age. He will be 34 when the season begins on Sept. 8 and is the third-oldest player on the roster, although he has less NFL experience than most players his age due to his career starting at age 27.

He has also long been one of the most unique players on the roster: He had his jersey sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year after joining the NFL's 10/10/10 club with 27 career rushing touchdowns, 11 receiving touchdowns and 11 passing touchdowns.

That uniqueness has often led to speculation about his future and how long he could thrive with the Saints while playing so many roles. That speculation didn't die down this offseason after the Saints left his contract untouched -- unusual for a team that routinely restructures contracts to get salary cap compliant. Hill accounts for $15.7 million against the cap this year.

He has two years left on his deal, though the Saints can move on next year if they wish. New Orleans will save $4.6 million against the salary cap and have $11 million in dead money if it chooses to release Hill in 2025. But it's clear the Saints still envision a big role for Hill, who led or tied the team in combined rushing and receiving touchdowns in 2022 and 2023.

"Certainly you want to be at a place that you want to be wanted, right? And like someone that has a vision for you," Hill said. "And Klint and I had sat down and had a great conversation in the offseason and, he kind of outlined and mapped out how he envisioned me being used, and, I would say we had a great frank conversation ... And everything that I've seen to this point has been reflective of that conversation."