Tagged in: New Orleans Saints

TE Josh Hill retires from football less than 2 months after signing with Detroit Lions

Tight end Josh Hill formally announced his retirement Thursday, less than two months after joining the Detroit Lions as a free agent.

The Lions signed veteran tight end Darren Fells as a replacement.

Hill, who turns 31 later this month, spent his first eight years with the New Orleans Saints before being released in a wave of salary-cap cuts. He originally planned to follow his former position coach, Dan Campbell, to Detroit before the apparent change of heart.

Hill’s one-year deal with the Lions was arranged to pay him $1.2 million. “This game has blessed my family and I with more than we could have ever imagined,” Hill wrote in an Instagram post.

“Everything this game has given and taught me makes this decision extremely difficult, but I am looking forward to all of the years I have with my young family, and being able to chase after different dreams.”

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Hill joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie from Idaho State in 2013

Quickly earned a place as a versatile blocker, receiver, core special teams player and occasional fullback.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder concluded his career with 116 catches for 1,071 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season, plus another 15 catches for 166 yards and a TD in the playoffs.

Saints coach Sean Payton once described Hill as so valuable in so many different areas of the playbook that losing him to an injury early in a game was “like losing your front door.”

“He has been a model of consistency throughout his eight seasons with us,” Payton said in a statement when Hill was released.

“He has been reliable, selfless and filled numerous roles for us, oftentimes on the fly and in the middle of games, filling each role at a very high level.”

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Seattle Seahawks talk to Richard Sherman, but no reunion imminent as DB mulls future

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed that he’s been in communication with Richard Sherman, but stated a reunion with the former All-Pro cornerback isn’t currently in the works.

“That’s not one of our thoughts right now that we’re going out and getting another guy at that spot, but we’re going to keep looking,” Carroll said Saturday, after the Seahawks took Oklahoma CB Tre Brown with one of their three draft picks.

“We’re not going to stop looking and we’re going to compete. So in that sense, I leave everything open and that’s just one of them.”

The 33-year-old Sherman is a free agent after spending the past three campaigns with the San Francisco 49ers.

In an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Friday, he said a return to San Francisco isn’t out of the question and listed the Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders as other teams with which he’s had communication.

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“I’ve got to wait through this draft process,” he told Smith. “Obviously, the first round, a lot of teams got corners, some teams didn’t get the corners they wanted and I think once this draft process completes my phone will ring a little more with people who expected to get a guy and didn’t get the guy they wanted. I’m not as in control as I was. At 33, it’s just like, it doesn’t matter what you put on tape.”

Sherman suggested that his age is the reason he’s unsigned

“It doesn’t matter accolades you have, what you put on tape, the numbers — it’s just age sometimes. So I’ve just got to continue to stay in shape, continue to stay ready … I’m being patient and doing everything I can.”

Sherman made four Pro Bowls and was named a First Team All-Pro in three of his seven seasons with Seattle, rising from a fifth-round pick in 2011 to become a key member of the defense that led the Seahawks to their lone Super Bowl championship and a close repeat the next year.

He suffered a torn Achilles in 2017 and was released that offseason with one year left on his contract. The 49ers then signed him to a three-year deal that just expired.

Sherman made his fifth career Pro Bowl in 2019 but missed 11 matches last year with a calf injury.

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New Orleans Saints bring back QB Jameis Winston on 1-year deal worth up to $12 million

Quarterback Jameis Winston now has a chance to become Drew Brees’ successor with the New Orleans Saints.

Just one day after Brees revealed his retirement, Winston and the Saints reached agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $12 million, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The former No. 1 overall NFL draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner spent his first five seasons as a starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before signing a one-year deal in New Orleans last summer to try to revive his career as the Saints’ backup.

Although Winston played sparingly, the Saints were impressed enough to bring him back to compete with Taysom Hill for the starting job this year.

Sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that the Chicago Bears were serious suitors for Winston in Monday’s free-agency process before he picked the Saints.

The Saints will have to carve out a bit more salary-cap space before the beginning of the new league year on Wednesday. They started the offseason nearly $100 million over the cap but had whittled that figure down to around $10 million by the start of this week.

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Winston, who turned 27 in January, went 28-42 as a starter with Tampa, completing 61.3% of his passes with 19,737 yards, 121 touchdowns and 88 interceptions. He displayed some dynamic highs and lows during that tenure — especially in 2019. That year, he led the league with 5,109 passing yards but also became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season.

Turnovers have been Winston’s biggest hurdle, with a league-high total of 111 from 2015 to 2019.

When the Buccaneers elected to move on to Tom Brady, Winston decided to try to revive his career in New Orleans. He signed a one-year deal worth just $1.1 million plus incentives because he said he wanted to get a “Harvard education in quarterback school” under coach Sean Payton and Brees.

Winston didn’t get much on-field experience in New Orleans behind Brees and Hill. But Winston did make his best play of the season when he completed a 56-yard touchdown pass on a trick play in the Saints’ playoff loss to his former team. Winston was 7-of-11 for 75 yards in the regular season with no touchdowns or turnovers.

Payton made it clear after the season that the Saints wanted to re-sign Winston and let him compete with Hill for the starting job following Brees’ retirement. Payton stated Winston was “fantastic as a leader” in addition to his arm talent.

Winston was suspended for the first three matches of the 2018 season after an eight-month NFL investigation ended that he engaged in detrimental conduct in March 2016 by touching a female Uber driver “in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.” A settlement was reached in a separate lawsuit.

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New Orleans Saints to release WR Emmanuel Sanders

The New Orleans Saints are releasing veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders after just one season as they keep trimming their massive salary-cap deficit, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Sanders, who turns 34 next week, confirmed the move in an Instagram post, saying:

“New Orleans it’s been real. Sucks we didn’t bring a super bowl to the city which was the goal when I signed but it was a blessing to showcase my talents in front of you guys weekend and week out. #Blessingsoblessings #Imafreeagent #Wheretonext?”

Sanders was due to make $8 million this campaign, with $2 million guaranteed. The Saints will save at least $4 million against the salary cap by releasing him — and possibly $6 million if they designate it as a post-June 1 release.

Sanders caught 61 passes for 726 yards and five touchdowns in 14 regular-season games last season. He caught another eight passes for 51 yards in the playoffs.

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The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder has a total of 662 catches for 8,619 yards and 47 touchdowns in an 11-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and the Saints. He has been selected to two Pro Bowls and has appeared in three Super Bowls — winning a title with the 2015 Broncos.

The Saints now have a big void for a No. 2 receiver alongside Michael Thomas again.

The position will rank as one of their top offseason needs, especially since fellow receiver Tre’Quan Smith is heading into the final year of his contract.

New Orleans has now released veterans Sanders, punter Thomas Morstead, tight end Josh Hill and offensive lineman Nick Easton while trimming cap space this offseason.

The Saints will possible release linebacker Kwon Alexander as well, since he is due $13.4 million after tearing his Achilles in December. The Saints started the offseason nearly $100 million over the salary cap and had decreased that number roughly in half as of Wednesday morning after they placed the franchise tag on free-agent safety Marcus Williams.

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Sean Payton wants New Orleans Saints to re-sign QB Jameis Winston ‘sooner than later’

So much for Sean Payton’s poker face. The New Orleans Saints coach didn’t try to cloak the team’s desire to re-sign free-agent quarterback Jameis Winston if Drew Brees retires as expected.

Payton spoke glowingly about Winston to ESPN and other media outlets while doing some Super Bowl week appearances on Wednesday, saying the Saints would like to re-sign him “sooner than later.”

Payton also specifically told CBS Sports’ Pick Six Podcast that he believes Brees to make an announcement “in the next week or two.”

Payton has been saying for months that he thinks the Saints’ next quarterback is already “in the building” — a reference that contains both Winston and Taysom Hill. And he reiterated Wednesday that the Saints have a “pretty good vision” for both players.

It was notable that Payton mentioned Winston first and talked about him in greater detail when asked about the Saints’ future QB plans by ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin Show and by NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” show — saying it was an “easy” question.

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However, Payton stressed that the reason he mentioned Winston first was that he’s a free agent and Hill is already under contract for one more year.

“Jameis Winston, we know. We had a year with him. He was fantastic as a leader. He’s got tremendous arm talent. He’s a young prospect that we like a lot,” Payton said in his ESPN appearance.

“When you have a player for a season, he’s kind of giving you a chance to see what he’s about, and there’s a little bit of an audition there. But the same audition takes place for us. He’s getting a chance to see, ‘Hey, this is how they do it here. Does this fit me? Does this head coach, this position coach? Is this a place I feel comfortable playing?'”

Payton told “Good Morning Football”: “A lot of times you want to hold your cards closer to the vest [with a] free agent. But him along with Taysom Hill, we’ve said it all along, we’re gonna develop and coach those guys. And Jameis is one of those guys that we have a big interest in.”

Winston, who just turned 27 in January, signed a one-year contract with the Saints last spring for $1.1 million plus incentives because he specifically wanted to learn under Payton and Brees while trying to renew his career. He called it “a Harvard education in quarterback school.”

Winston didn’t get much on-field experience, since there was no preseason and Payton elected to start Hill while Brees was sidelined for four matches by broken ribs and a punctured lung.

However, Winston did make his best play of the season when he completed a 56-yard touchdown pass on a trick play in New Orleans’ playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winston was 7-of-11 for 75 yards in the regular season with no touchdowns or turnovers.

Hill, 30, went 3-1 in those four starts, with some highs and some lows. But Payton explained that part of the reason he selected Hill over Winston was that Hill was in his fourth year in New Orleans — and Payton had made a promise to Hill that he would get such an opportunity when he re-signed last year as a restricted free agent.

It appears that this year would be more of an open competition between Winston and Hill, assuming the Saints don’t make any other big moves at the position.

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New Orleans Saints won’t rush Drew Brees to return despite looming Week 15 showdown vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The New Orleans Saints are in no rush to bring back Drew Brees, and there’s still no timetable for when the quarterback might play again as he recovers from his 11 fractured ribs and punctured lung, league sources told ESPN.

Brees was hoping to return in Week 15 versus the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Saints want to see their veteran quarterback make a full recovery, be able to throw without any limitations and have complete range of motion before they consider reinserting him into the starting lineup, according to sources.

Until that happens, the Saints are prepared to keep playing with Taysom Hill as long as they need, including Sunday’s game in Philadelphia versus the Eagles.

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Brees will be questionable at best to play next Sunday against Kansas City, and he would not have been able to play against Philadelphia, according to sources.

Brees, 41, was placed on injured reserve Nov. 20, forcing him to miss a minimum of three games.

He said at the time that he hoped to be ready to play by Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

A source told ESPN earlier this month that Brees was progressing in his recovery from the injuries and was tracking to play as early as Sunday.

The Saints (10-2) own the best record in the NFC and can clinch the NFC South title with a victory Sunday over Philadelphia or a loss by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) versus the Minnesota Vikings.

Hill will make his fourth consecutive start Sunday and has added a different dimension to the Saints’ offensive attack, rushing for 176 yards and four touchdowns while leading New Orleans to a 3-0 record over his first three starts.

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Las Vegas Raiders guard Richie Incognito out for season after foot surgery

Las Vegas Raiders left guard Richie Incognito recently underwent “season-ending foot surgery,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden stated Monday on his weekly videoconference with the media.

Incognito, 37, initially went down with what the team described as an Achilles injury early in the Raiders’ Week 2 triumph over the New Orleans Saints.

“I hate to admit that, but we’ve tried everything we can,” Gruden said. “Richie’s tried everything he can to get back on the field. His season is over.”

Incognito was coaxed out of retirement by the Raiders on a one-year “prove it” deal in the spring of 2019 and earned a two-year, $14 million extension, with $6.365 million guaranteed, as well as a Pro Bowl alternate nod despite missing four matches. 

Denzelle Good replaced Incognito at left guard; he has played so well that Gruden called Good the team’s “unsung hero” and quarterback Derek Carr referred to Good as the team’s MVP.

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Still, Incognito was part of the heavy financial investment the Raiders made in their offensive line.

But due to injury and COVID-19 issues, the projected starting O-line of left tackle Kolton Miller, Incognito, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown played all of three snaps together this campaign, in the season opener.

But due to injury and COVID-19 issues, the projected starting O-line of left tackle Kolton Miller, Incognito, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown played all of three snaps together this campaign, in the season opener.

In fact, Brown, who signed a record four-year, $66 million free-agent contract with $36.75 million guaranteed in 2019, has appeared in just two games this season — three snaps in the season opener and at the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 11.

Brown, who injured his calf in training camp, suffered a mishap while being administered a pregame IV and has been on the reserve/COVID list twice, the most recent since Nov. 5. Gruden said Brown’s return was “still up in the air” for the Raiders, who fell to 6-4 after Sunday night’s heartbreaking 35-31 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the final minute.

“He’s still, hopefully, about to get started here and resume his playing,” Gruden said of Brown. “It’s a day-to-day operation and I’ll know more from the trainer here on Tuesday morning.”

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New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees has fractured ribs, collapsed lung, source says

The results of medical evaluations performed Monday on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees revealed that he has multiple rib fractures on both sides of his chest and a collapsed lung on the right side, according to a source.

Brees is uncertain how much time he might be forced to miss before returning to start for the Saints, the source said.

Brees is suffering from three fractured ribs on his left side and two on the right, possibly more, according to the source. Doctors have cautioned Brees to be especially careful with the damage to his lung.

The two broken ribs on his right side occurred in the first half of the Saints’ triumph over the San Francisco 49ers, a game that backup Jameis Winston finished after Brees determined he could not play the second half because he was having difficulty breathing.

The three fractured ribs on the left side are believed to have occurred in the game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. They did not show up as such on the X-ray performed at the time, possibly because of inflammation, but they were clearly seen on the CAT scan performed Monday.

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Doctors performing the evaluation believe the right-side fractures might have punctured the quarterback’s lung Sunday, creating a pneumothorax. That is what caused Brees’ difficulty breathing in the game and resulted in him informing head coach Sean Payton that he could not play the second half versus the 49ers.

The most optimistic timetable for a return is two to three weeks, but the people involved are prepared for it to be longer, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. It will depend on how long Brees’ injuries take to heal, which varies from patient to patient, and when the Saints are convinced he is able to take a hit without risk of serious re-injury.

There is hope that he will return in time for the playoffs.

The Saints listed Brees on their injury report last week with a shoulder injury, and that was causing enough pain that Brees was apparently unaware of the rib injury he had suffered against the Bucs. That was believed to have happened in the second quarter.

Payton on Monday declined to offer any updates on Brees’ injury status or who might replace him at quarterback if he misses time.

“Wednesday is our first day that we’re required to (report injuries). And to be fair to the process, let’s stick with that,” said Payton, who said he wouldn’t announce the starting quarterback until late in the week.

“None of it benefits us by announcing that player earlier than later,” Payton said. “I wouldn’t project or answer that in any way. We’ll see how this week unfolds.”

However, it would stand to reason that the Saints would stick with Winston in the short term, since he was the one who filled in for Brees on Sunday — and since the Saints went with Teddy Bridgewater as their replacement during Brees’ five-game absence last year.

Although the Saints do consider Taysom Hill as a potential long-term option at quarterback, they would have to change their offense more significantly to suit his unique skill set as a runner/passer. And they like to use him as a playmaker in their offense at QB/RB/WR/TE/FB.

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New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees held back in practice for second straight day

Although Drew Brees downplayed the significance of his shoulder injury Wednesday, he remained limited in Thursday’s practice.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback was working off to the side with no pads during the early portion of practice that was open to the media and was formally listed as a limited participant.

It is rare for Brees to be limited in practice this late in the week and unclear if that will affect his status for Sunday night’s critical NFC South showdown at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It is also unclear who would replace Brees in the starting lineup if necessary, with former Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill both potential aspirants.

Friday’s practice should shed more light on Brees’ status.

Brees appeared on the Saints’ injury report as limited in Wednesday’s practice, but he downplayed that by pointing out that he is always limited on Wednesdays. Brees, 41, hasn’t thrown during Wednesday practices for the past several years to give him more rest and recovery after games.

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However, the shoulder injury appears to be a new ailment since Brees was spotted wearing Kinesio tape on his right throwing shoulder during New Orleans’ 26-23 overtime win at Chicago in Week 8.

Asked about the tape Wednesday, Brees laughed and said, “I’m 41 years old. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. But I just keep ticking.”

Brees leads the NFL with a completion percentage of 73.1%. Since Week 3, he has the third-highest passer rating (111.2), behind only Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

On the plus side for New Orleans, running back Alvin Kamara returned to practice Thursday after being limited by a foot injury that he described as minor on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle/hamstring) continued to practice Thursday as he appears close to returning to the lineup for the first time since Week 1. And wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders stated he is definitely playing after being activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list this week.

Kamara was listed as a full participant in practice, while Thomas was a limited participant.

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San Francisco 49ers trade LB Kwon Alexander to New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints continued their aggressive approach toward the 2020 season by obtaining linebacker Kwon Alexander from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round draft pick.

Both linebackers are on the mend from injuries. Alexander missed the past three weeks with a high ankle sprain but returned to practice last week. Alonso, meanwhile, has not played yet this season after tearing his ACL in January. But he also returned to practice last month.

The 49ers signed Alexander to a four-year, $54 million contract as a free agent from Tampa Bay last campaign. But Alexander, 26, was limited last year by a torn pectoral muscle before returning for their playoff run.

This was a way for the 49ers to shed salary because they like their depth at the position — specifically second-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who has started in Alexander’s place whenever he has been injured.

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The Saints, meanwhile, have one of the NFL’s best run defenses.

But the athletic 6-foot-1, 227-pounder should help their pass coverage while playing alongside All-Pro Demario Davis. Both players are Mike/Will linebacker hybrids.

Coach Sean Payton stated Monday the Saints envision Alexander as a Will linebacker, where he will compete for playing time with current starter Alex Anzalone while Davis plays more of the Mike linebacker role.

Payton said it would be difficult for Alexander to play Sunday night at Tampa Bay because of the five-day onboarding process that is required. But Payton said the “goal” is for Alexander to be able to suit up in Week 10 — versus the 49ers of all teams in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints can easily afford Alexander’s deal for the rest of this season, as he is due less than $1 million in base salary and per-game roster bonuses over their final nine matches. However, they will have a decision to make next year before Alexander is due an additional $13.4 million in salary and bonuses.

Only $2 million is guaranteed for injury-only. Alexander is due another $13.5 million in 2022, none of which is guaranteed.

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