Two months after he signed a free-agent deal to join his old position coach in Detroit, Josh Hill is planning to retire from the NFL.
Hill, who spent his first eight NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints, has informed the Detroit Lions of his decision to walk away from the game, multiple sources told the Free Press.
In March, Hill signed a one-year deal with the Lions after being released by the Saints. He spoke at the time of the difficulty of leaving the only NFL team he has ever played for.
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“Kind of put down some roots in New Orleans, so that can be tough, with kids and moving schools,” he said. “But I’m excited about new opportunity, new city. Somebody that’s striving toward winning games. There’ve been a lot of ups and downs, but as a family we’re excited. We’re going to move up there after the school year’s finished. We’re excited.”
Hill played primarily as a blocking tight end for most of his career. He caught a career-high 25 passes for 226 yards in 2019, and had eight catches for 46 yards last season, when he missed one November game with a brain injury.
Hill reportedly also suffered one brain injury in each of the 2017-19 seasons, including one that caused him to leave the Saints’ NFC championship game loss to the Rams in 2018.
Hill played the 2016-20 seasons in New Orleans, where first-year Lions head coach Dan Campbell was his position coach. Campbell spoke excitedly about bringing Hill into the fold in March as someone who could help set establish the culture he wants in Detroit.
“I thought it was important that we brought in guys that, there again, we somehow have a relationship with or we know somewhat intimately, cause you know what those guys are about,” Campbell said. “And you grade the tape and, yep, they can still do it. They have these, there’s a role that they have. But I do feel like we’ve got the right mix of guys that are dynamic players, we got role players, we got leaders, we got — man we got workhorses. So I just feel like it’s a good balance of people.”
T.J. Hockenson returns as the Lions’ No. 1 tight end after a Pro Bowl season in 2020, but the Lions are thin otherwise at the position. They signed Alize Mack — another former Saint — in February, added Hunter Thedford on a futures deal and signed two blocking tight ends in undrafted free agency: Ohio State’s Jake Hausmann and Notre Dame’s Brock Wright.
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The Lions are hosting veteran tight end Darren Fells on a free agent visit Wednesday.
Fells caught 55 passes and 11 touchdowns the past two seasons for the Houston Texans. A former college basketball player who played professionally overseas, Fells had 17 catches for 177 yards in the 2017 season with the Lions.
The Lions made two roster moves Tuesday, signing long snapper Scott Daly and undrafted rookie free agent guard Evan Heim. Daly last played with the New York Guardians of the XFL, while Heim started 54 games at Minnesota State-Mankato