Dave Birkett | Detroit Free Press
The Patriot Way is a thing of the past, but the new Detroit Lions coaching staff still will have a pipeline to its old teams.
The Lions announced the signing of former New Orleans Saints tight end Josh Hill on Saturday. Hill was released earlier this month after eight seasons with the Saints, where he played five years for Lions head coach Dan Campbell.
Previously, the Lions signed wide receiver Tyrell Williams, who spent three seasons with Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Look, if I’m being completely transparent with you, I think, yeah, (familiarity will be a factor in our free agent moves),” Campbell said earlier this month. “If there’s some guys out there that are from other teams that we have history with, this coaching staff has history with, our personnel department, our GM, our assistant GM has history with that we know and we trust and are our type of guys, yeah, I would say that would be pretty intriguing.”
Hill made seven starts for the Saints last season and caught eight passes for 46 yards.
He has been a reliable blocking tight end throughout his career, and should fill the role left vacant by this week’s release of tight end Jesse James.
Last year, Campbell called Hill, one of four tight ends with a touchdown reception in each of the past eight seasons, “the unsung hero” of the Saints offense.
“The guy does all the dirty work,” Campbell told NewOrleansSaints.com. “He does all these things that nobody even sees half the time.”
With Hill in the fold, the Lions do not have a pressing need at the tight end position entering free agency next week.
Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson returns as starter, and Hunter Bryant, Hunter Thedford and another ex-Saint, Alize Mack, should compete for the No. 3 next season.