Tyler Kaufman/Associated Press
Taysom Hill is getting the surprise start for the New Orleans Saints Sunday in place of an injured Drew Brees, mostly so the team can evaluate the versatile player as a quarterback option going forward, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
It will be the first chance for head coach Sean Payton to see Hill as a full-time quarterback.
“Sean just wants to know,” a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
It’s far from a slam-dunk choice as “multiple players and people within the organization” believe Jameis Winston should be the starter for the Week 11 game against the Atlanta Falcons, per Schefter.
Brees is out after suffering 11 fractures in his ribs, per ESPN’s Ed Werder. The veteran will miss at least three games after being placed on injured reserve.
The Saints also know this could be a long-term hole to fill with the 41-year-old potentially retiring at the end of the season.
It means the team will get a chance to evaluate Hill, the former undrafted free agent who has mostly been used as a gadget player during his four seasons with the organization. The 30-year-old has never thrown more than two passes in a regular-season or postseason game, instead lining up at tight end or receiver, sometimes playing quarterback in wildcat formations.
New Orleans signed Hill to a two-year, $21 million extension in the offseason but also added Winston on a one-year, $1.1 million deal after the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback failed to find a starting job elsewhere.
Winston has been inconsistent, but he has much more experience under center (70 career starts) and led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards last season.
After Brees left last Sunday’s game with a rib injury, it was Winston who came in to close out the 27-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
The Saints are still turning to Hill, experimenting at a key position despite a narrow lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the race for an NFC South title.