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Is playing Taysom Hill at tight end the best move by the Saints?

With the New Orleans Saints confirming that multi-weapon Taysom Hill will focus on tight end next season, they risk blunting the Swiss Army knife

With the New Orleans Saints confirming that multi-weapon Taysom Hill will focus on tight end next season, they risk blunting the Swiss Army knife

The New Orleans Saints have announced that they have agreed to terms with veteran quarterback Andy Dalton. The 34 year old Texan was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 and spent eight years with the organization. He left as their all-time leader in passer rating at 87.5 and touchdowns with 204. After a year with the Cowboys and another year with the Bears, the three-time Pro Bowler joins the Saints on a one year, $3 million contract, worth up to $6 million with incentives.

He will be the insurance man behind Jameis Winston, who signed a two year, $28 million deal earlier in March, signalling a sea-change in the use of much-loved Saints talisman Taysom Hill.

Sean Payton had what can only be described as a love affair with Hill, plotting and scheming to find new and creative ways to get the ex-BYU quarterback into the Saints offense. He rushed, he blocked, he caught passes, he threw passes, he returned kicks. Payton couldn’t find enough ways to make use of the “Human Swiss-Army Knife”.

And when saint Drew hung up his cleats, Payton seemed content to allow murky waters to seep in, demurring when asked if Winston or Hill would get the number one quarterback role.

But those days are now officially over. Dennis Allen was very clear that his offense would shift focus and Jameis is the quarterback. Unwilling to allow Taysom Hill’s talents to go to waste, the Saints have decided to shift him to a full-time tight end role.

"If Jameis is out there playing quarterback, I don't like Taysom standing next to me on the sideline," said Allen. With the Saints needing a focus tight end, Hill can make a mark at the position and be on the field more often than in the utility role he has fulfilled to date. Remember that famous Saints shutout of Tampa? Got all that press as the only time Tom Brady was shut out in his career? Payton was suspended and Dennis Allen coached that game. His quarterback? Taysom Hill.

One risk is that by taking the ability of Hill to line up in the backfield, either in a blocking back role or under center, you reduce him to a single threat. The factor that has made him so effective, and so beloved in the Big Easy, has been the multiple threats that he poses to defenses. Allowing other teams to ignore Hill’s varied talents and focus on other aspects of New Orleans’ attack may blunt the blade of what has been the most potent offense of the past decade.

With Dennis Allen’s experience, one must hope that he will be able to re-sharpen that tool and adjust to any opposition that may come with this move. If he doesn’t, he knows that the Saints fan base will not lay the blame with Taysom Hill, but with the man who makes the calls.