Tight ends: Contract breakdown for the New Orleans Saints

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Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Coby Fleener (82) walks off the field following a loss against the Atlanta Falcons in a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 45-32. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Coby Fleener (82) walks off the field following a loss against the Atlanta Falcons in a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 45-32. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 8, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Josh Hill (89) scores a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Josh Hill (89) scores a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Josh Hill

Three years, $7,100,000, through 2018

Josh Hill has long been a guy Saints fans expect to breakout. When the team shipped Jimmy Graham off to Seattle, most fans and media outlets pegged Hill as the man to step up. Payton had repeatedly gushed over Hill’s athletic ability, which seemed a sure sign that he was due for a promotion. Instead, Hill took a backseat to veteran Benjamin Watson, who went on to have a career year as a receiving TE.

Then, when Watson jumped ship for Baltimore, the Saints brought in Fleener. Hill’s contract was up, and after a workout with Ryan Pace and the Bears, Chicago signed him to an offer sheet. This seemed like the end of Hill’s career with the Saints who had plenty of holes left to fill.

Instead, the Saints matched the offer sheet worth over $7 million. For a player who’s always been more potential than production, $7 million seemed high. Hill is an adequate blocker, and by all accounts a phenomenal athlete, but he’s never had the agility or route running skills to produce in this league. Most of his value comes on special teams.

Hill’s now missed most of the season with an ankle injury, but he looks to return this week against Carolina. In his defense, he’s not yet played a full game under his new contract, and may very well still show his value as a hybrid blocking-receiving TE. But after years with the team, it feels like we know what sort of player he is.

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