Inside the Taysom Hill contract

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Taysom Hill traded a one-year, $4.64 million restricted free agency tender for a two-year, $21 million contract with the Saints. It’s a win-win that rewards Hill with $16 million in guaranteed money, and that allows the Saints to keep Hill through 2021 without having to worry about potentially using the franchise tag next season.

Here are the full details of Hill’s new contract, per a source with knowledge of the deal.

1. Signing bonus: $8 million.

2. 2020 base salary: $841,000, fully guaranteed.

3. 2021 roster bonus: $1.439 million, due on the fifth day of the league year and fully guaranteed five days after signing.

4. 2021 base salary: $10.72 million, $5.72 million of which is fully guaranteed at signing.

The deal also includes 2021 incentives of up to $1 million, but with $1.6 million in performance triggers. The incentives are $150,000 for 3,250 passing yards, $150,000 for a passer rating of 90 or more, $150,000 for a 65-percent completion percentage, $250,000 for offensive player of the year or MVP, $150,000 for 70 percent playing time and 11 wins; $150,000 for 70 percent playing time and a bye; $150,000 for 50 percent playing time and a wildcard win; $150,000 for 50 percent playing time and a divisional-round win; and $150,000 for 50 percent playing time and a conference championship win.

That works out to $16 million fully guaranteed over two years, and a $16.36 million increase over the money Hill was already due to earn in 2020.

So why did Hill take the deal instead of playing for $4.64 million this year and rolling the dice on the possibility of being franchise tagged next year? There are two important points to consider.

First, although Hill is listed as a quarterback, the tag is driven by the total number of snaps taken in the prior year. If Hill is used more as a running back or tight end than as a quarterback, his franchise tender would be much lower than the quarterback tag. (This year, the quarterback tender is $26.8 million, the tight end tender is $10.6 million, and the running back tender is $10.27 million.)

Second, the non-exclusive franchise tag is driven by the salary cap. If the cap dramatically declines in 2021 based on reduced revenue resulting from the pandemic, the franchise tenders will drop dramatically, too. Hill is now immune to that.

If Hill becomes the starting quarterback in 2021, he’d clearly be entitled to the quarterback franchise tag in 2022, absent another new deal. By then, NFL revenue should be back to normal, or at least something close to it.