Tight end Josh Hill could be the newest member of the Chicago Bears in five days. Well, that is if his current team, the New Orleans Saints don't match the three-year offer the Bears sent his way. According to the Tribune, the Bears extended a three-year offer worth roughly $2 million per season on Tuesday.
Hill, 25 has been relatively successful as a No. 2 tight end in three NFL seasons which includes a dominant two-touchdown performance on two catches (15 yards) in a 31-15 route at Soldier Field in Dec. 2014. In total, the Idaho State product has 36 catches for 340 yards and eight touchdowns in his time with New Orleans since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013.
Bears' general manager was with the Saints when Hill earned a roster spot with them following the draft. Known as a solid blocking tight end and a high-end special teamer, he'd fit the bill as the No. 2 guy opposite pass catching specialist Zach Miller. The Bears currently have veteran Rob Housler and second-year blockers Khari Lee and Gannon Sinclair on the roster, but they want to add more spark to the position.
Signing Hill wouldn't require a draft pick since he was extended the lowest round tender at $1.67 million. The Saints have the least amount of cap space available at $1.3 million, according to OvertheCap.com and considering they signed former Colts tight end Coby Fleener to a big deal (five years, $36 million) and re-signed Michael Hoomanawanui as well, bringing Hill back might not be in their plans.
At 6'5", 250 lbs, Hill is a nice athlete who has plenty of upside as a redzone target. Jay Cutler would likely love a guy like him to fill the depth at the tight end spot. He doesn't wow you with his pass-catching skills, but he always protects his quarterback and helps plenty in the run blocking game. As long as the top wide receivers stay healthy, the tight end position will be solid minus Martellus Bennett.
He had a career-best 16 grabs last season along with 120 yards and two touchdowns after racking up 14 receptions for 176 yards and five touchdowns the year prior. Hill has made 13 starts in 46 games earning 60 targets in the passing game and hasn't missed a single game due to injury.
Hill has earned 15 red zone targets over the past two seasons including 10 last year. He's averaged just over 324 special teams snaps in that time as well leading the Saints with 15 stops on the third phase in 2014. He has value as an all-around tight end and should improve as a receiver over time.
The Bears are smart to extend a contract offer to him considering how thin the tight end position is in the draft. Hill fits the bill in terms of what the Bears want to do offensively.
After visiting Halas Hall Friday and the Jets last week, Hill is destined to be with the Bears this upcoming season and New Orleans has five days to match. I doubt they do. This is the second restricted free agent the Bears have targeted during free agency. After failing to land running back C.J. Anderson on a reported four-year, $19 million deal, the Bears moved on, but now they are scanning the market once again.
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