Saints match Bears’ offer sheet for TE Josh Hill

SHARE Saints match Bears’ offer sheet for TE Josh Hill

Saints tight end Josh Hill. (AP)

The Bears’ search for help at tight end continues.

The Saints announced Friday that they’ve matched the Bears’ offer sheet for tight end Josh Hill, a restricted free agent. Hill signed a three-year deal with the Bears on Tuesday, and the Saints had five days to match.

So what’s next for the Bears?

They still need help at tight end after trading Martellus Bennett to the Patriots. Tight ends available in free agency include include Jared Cook, Andrew Quarless, Alex Smith and Vernon Davis.

The Bears will consider tight ends in the draft, but general manager Ryan Pace described the class as merely OK overall. The Bears did meet with Arkansas’ Hunter Henry, who is widely regarded as the best tight end prospect, at the NFL combine.

“The way offenses are now in college, the tight end is becoming harder to evaluate,” Pace said this week during the NFL owners meetings in Boca Raton, Florida. “A lot of the time those guys are spread out so you don’t get to see them in-line and blocking as much. So I’d say it’s OK.”

The Bears’ decision to pursue Hill was in line with their other free-agent moves. They know him very well.

“[He’s] long, young [and] obviously familiarity with our coaches,” coach John Fox said at the NFL owners meetings. “[Tight ends coach] Frank Smith knows him. Ryan Pace knows him.”

Hill was an undrafted free-agent signing for the Saints in 2013, when Pace was in the Saints’ front office. In three seasons, Hill has 36 catches for 340 yards and eight touchdowns.

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