BOCA RATON, Fla. — The New Orleans Saints could lose Josh Hill.
The Chicago Bears signed the tight end to an offer sheet, meaning New Orleans has five days to match the offer. If it does not, Hill will become a member of the Bears.
The offer from Chicago is for three years, according to a source. Specifics on the money were not disclosed.
Hill, a restricted free agent, was tendered by the Saints at the lowest level. New Orleans will not receive any compensation if Hill leaves town.
Considering the Saints have $1.2 million in cap space and still have not filed linebacker James Laurinaitis’ contract with the league, it could be difficult for New Orleans to retain Hill.
Hill caught 16 passes for 120 yards last season.
If he remains with the Saints, he’ll be behind Coby Fleener and Michael Hoomanawanui on the depth chart.
Colts sorry to let Fleener walk
Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano wishes there wouldn’t have been a decision to make.
If there wasn’t a salary cap and he had unlimited resources, he would have gladly brought Fleener back to Indianapolis and continued to allow him to be a key piece in one of the NFL’s more prolific offenses. But there is cap and resources are limited, so the Colts made the decision to pursue Dwayne Allen at tight end and let Fleener walk on down to New Orleans.
Sure, the Colts coach would rather have both guys in his building, but he’s happy with the one he was able to retain.
“We want them all back. Love our team and love everyone of those players,” Pagano said. “Today’s football, you have a certain amount of resources. I’m happy for Coby. I’m happy we got Dwayne back. He’s a great combo guy, gives you versatility there. He’s one of the better blocking tight ends in the league.”
Pagano said he thinks Fleener ended up in a situation that will suit his talents. He believes that in New Orleans’ offense, which typically targets tight ends on 25 percent of the passing targets each season, his former tight end will continue to grow and put up big up numbers.
“I’m very happy for Coby and the contract that he got and the new team that he’s with,” Pagano said. “He’s with a great organization and a great coach in Sean Payton, and he’ll flourish in that system down there.”
After signing Fleener to a five-year, $36 million contract, the Saints are hoping for the same.
The NFL approved a handful of new rules Tuesday, including the proposal to penalize a team when its granted a timeout when it no longer has any left.
The Saints fell victim to a phantom timeout during the end of the second half of a game against the Detroit Lions last year.
The league will also permanently move extra-point attempts to the 15-yard line. Last year was considered a trial period.
In terms of player safety, chop blocks were banned, and the horse collar rule was expanded to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the name plate or above and pulls a runner to the ground.
The league eliminated the 5-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds. The penalty now will be a loss of a down. There also will no longer be multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.
Lastly, coaches are now allowed to communicate with players over a headset when they are stationed in a booth. Previously, only coaches on the field could communicate with players.
The automatic ejection rule for multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties remains under consideration.