Saints cut veteran tight end Josh Hill, extend J.T. Gray

NFL Destination Football

NEW ORLEANS (AP)The New Orleans Saints cut eight-year veteran tight end and special teams regular Josh Hill on Wednesday and also voided the contract of Jared Cook, who was due to become a free agent this offseason.

The decision to release the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Hill saves the Saints about $2.6 million in salary cap space for the coming season.

The termination of Cook’s contract was a formality but also signifies the Saints’ intention to let Cook test the free-agent market rather than proactively looking to extend him after a season in which he caught 37 passes for 504 yards and seven touchdowns.

Meanwhile, New Orleans also signed special teams regular and reserve safety J.T. Gray to a two-year extension.

Hill, 30, has spent his entire NFL career with New Orleans since making the club as an undrafted free agent out of Idaho State in 2013.

He has played in 117 regular-season games with 62 starts and has caught 116 passes for 1,071 yards with 15 touchdowns. He also has made 27 special teams tackles.

Hill played in 14 games last season with seven starts. He had eight catches for 46 yards with one touchdown, but largely served as a blocker this season.

”He is a true professional,” general manager Mickey Loomis said of Hill while announcing the decision to cut him. ”He has done so many things that very few people noticed, but his coaches and teammates certainly were aware of his contribution to the team’s success over the better part of the last decade. He played with tremendous heart and determination.”

Saints coach Sean Payton called Hill ”reliable” and ”selfless.”

”We appreciate everything he has done for our team and know he will have continued success as he moves forward,” Payton said.

The 6-foot-6, 254-pound Cook, who’ll be 34 next season, is a 12-year veteran who joined New Orleans as a free agent in 2019.

He had 80 receptions for 1,209 yards and 16 touchdowns in his two seasons with the club and was selected to the Pro Bowl at the end of the 2019 season.

”He made a lot of big plays for us and was a positive influence on his teammates,” Payton said.

Gray was due to become a restricted free agent after originally making the club as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2018.

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