The Ravens are a choice place for players looking for stability and somewhere to rehabilitate their image. Will Hill III is the latest player to come through Baltimore looking for redemption. Hill was surprisingly cut by a safety-needy Giants team in the middle of his rookie contract, despite providing quality play at safety for several years in New York.
However, off field problems, including substance abuse sidelined Hill several times with the Giants, and he needed a change of scenery. Despite needing to serve a 6 game suspension to start the 2014 season, the Ravens took a chance on him on a one year deal. Distanced from his hometown of East Orange, NJ by several hours, Hill managed to stay out of trouble with the Ravens and provide high level safety play, something the Ravens have not really had since Ed Reed was in his prime.
The Ravens rewarded him with a 2 year deal, although Hill says he knew since day 1 he wanted to stay in Baltimore:
Will Hill: "When I first signed and sat down with Ozzie, I knew from that point I didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted to be a Raven."— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 27, 2015
Although another suspension is a risk and this contract is a leap of faith by the Ravens, it would also seem to be win-win for both sides. Hill seems to have turned a corner and settled down, saying:
"My living habits, I don't go out on the town much," Hill said. "I sit in the house with my family. I used to be a nightclub guy, especially coming out of college. I've just been watching a lot of movies. I'm a homebody. I took a long look in the mirror and decided to change a lot of things."
The Ravens essentially buy out one year of his free agency, taking on the risk of another suspension. Hill meanwhile puts off his free agency and chance at a multi-year contract, but he gets a guaranteed pay bump up front and some stability, as well as knowing he has at least 2 more years to play for the Ravens and contend for a title.
Seems like a marriage made in heaven. Hill says he is done with marijuana, and the suspension guidelines for marijuana have been reduced and the threshold raised, so that is less of a concern either way. But the safety has been a model citizen, coming in early to work out, saying the right things, and staying out of trouble. The high level of play he has shown through the 2014 season and this preseason are just what the Ravens need in the secondary, so lets hope Hill can contribute another great year which will keep him in purple for the rest of his career.