Few NFL players have had their contract scrutinized as closely as Taysom Hill. The New Orleans Saints utility player is bringing home $10 million each season on his current four-year deal with the black and gold, which is 13th among tight ends around the league (the position he lines up more frequently than anywhere else, also splitting time in the slot as a receiver, on special teams with the punt units, and in the backfield at fullback and occasionally quarterback).
All told, Hill has made $32,770,000 through six years in the NFL, per Over The Cap, with all but $5,000 coming from the Saints; the Green Bay Packers guaranteed him just five grand as an undrafted free agent out of BYU. He’s done well for himself in finding a role on a creative coaching staff, and it’s put him on the map.
That’s not stopping some pocket-watching, though. With high-profile franchise quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson working to secure their own payday, Hill is an easy target — the Gaming Society’s Kate Magdziuk pointed out that he’s earned almost exactly as much money as Jackson. The Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback and 2019 league MVP has made $32,487,652 through five years in the league, per Over The Cap. It’s a difference of $312,348 between a player who has scored 42 touchdowns and played a combined 2,637 snaps in his career on offense and special teams (Hill) and another player who has scored 124 touchdowns while playing 4,009 snaps in his (Jackson). Jackson is unquestionably a more accomplished and more effective player, and it’s a shame that his pay doesn’t reflect that.
But this isn’t a very good comparison. The NFL collective bargaining agreement established a controversial rookie wage scale a decade ago that locked Jackson into a low-cost, four-year deal with a fifth year option once the Ravens drafted him. Because Hill was an undrafted free agent, he initially signed a modest three-year deal, re-signed with the Saints as a restricted free agent, and later inked another extension at his current level of pay.
Jackson is hard at work negotiating his own long-term deal, and he’ll be making more per-year than Hill has brought in during the entire course of his NFL career. If the rookie wage scale worked differently and set Jackson up for a lucrative second contract earlier, as was the case for Hill, he would have already signed the landmark deal he’s seeking. But the system is what it is. Hill was able to benefit from circumstances that many players haven’t been able to, and he’s still an important part of what the Saints are hoping to achieve. Jackson is on the way to receiving what’s owed to him, too. But will it happen in Baltimore?