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Is a switch to free safety in DeAngelo Hall's future with Redskins?

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Is a switch to free safety in DeAngelo Hall's future with Redskins?

For the past couple of seasons, DeAngelo Hall has talked about the possibility of shifting from cornerback to safety.

He even tried it in practice here and there.

But after seeing a handful of snaps at free safety in Sunday’s win over the Saints, it’s starting to look like the long-discussed experiment could become the 12th-year vet’s new reality.  

“I haven’t played [safety] a lot,” said Hall, who suited up for the first time since Week 3 due to a toe injury. “[Former secondary coach] Raheem [Morris] kinda threw me back there every now and then in certain situations. It’s fun. I like it. I didn’t get a chance to make many plays [against the Saints], but I don’t mind running up and making tackles. So it was cool. It was fun. Definitely wouldn’t mind doing a little more that. But wherever they need me to play, that’s where I’m going to play.” 

Asked if he expects to continue to see spot duty at safety, Hall said: “I guess. I didn’t get too many snaps. I was just in the dime package. When the game kind of got out of hand, they took [starter Dashon Goldson] out and let me go back there and get some snaps. It just kind of depends on the situation. We’ll keep trying to keep growing my knowledge and seeing how much I can handle.”

Several cornerbacks have made a successful transition from corner to safety, including Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson and Ronde Barber. And with Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland now entrenched as the starters at right and left corner, respectively, Hall finds him searching for a spot to play as he returns from injury.  

“I made the statement [to the coaches] that [Breeland] is playing so good, don’t take him out,” Hall said with chuckle. “So we haven’t took him out. I’m trying to find somewhere to play.”

Hall said he’s reached out to Charles Woodson to get some tips on making a smooth transition.

“I’ve talked to C. Wood, just because I know C. Wood,” Hall said. “I definitely talked to him about it and reached out to him.”

Hall, who turned 32 today, believes his football acumen and experience could help him become a quality full time free safety, if and when that's what he's asked to do. But he was also quick to say he’s not going to make the switch just so he can play a few more years.

“I’m not going to try to go play safety just to try to extend my career. I’m going to play safety to be a damn good safety,” Hall said. “I’m not in the business of trying to tack on years. I can go home and hang with my kids and family before that. But I think I can make a difference at safety somewhere. They kinda mentioned it to me and I was like, ‘Alright, cool.’ We were in the lab trying to draw up different schemes and different things to try and get me on the field. It’s been interesting.” 

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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USA TODAY Sports

In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.