In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.
In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Will DeAngelo Hall return?
Tandler: The day after the Redskins’ season ended Redskins coach Jay Gruden dropped a couple of very strong hits that DeAngelo Hall would return to the Redskins in 2016. In answering a question about leadership, Gruden said, “D-Hall is going to be here.” And when asked about Hall moving to safety, Gruden said, “I think he’s going to solidify himself as one of the top safeties in the league.”
But what is said in early January is not necessarily binding through the year. Hall faces some significant headwinds in coming back for a 13th NFL season. He will be 33 a week or so after midseason. In 2014 he missed 13 games due to a torn Achilles tendon and a toe injury cost him five games this year. And his salary cap number will be a bit over $5 million, making him No. 20 on the 2016 safety earnings list. While he didn’t play poorly his level of play combined with the injury factor makes that a bad value.
As with any player under contract there are three options here—keep him under his current deal, renegotiate a new contract with him, or cut him. Remember that it takes two to tango when it comes to renegotiating. Hall has been willing to work with the Redskins in the past in redoing his contract. But Hall may be reluctant to do so now, closer to the end of his career.
So although renegotiation may be the ideal scenario from the team’s standpoint it may not be an option. So what does Scot McCloughan do if their choice is to keep him on his current deal or cut him? I think that depth problems at safety might force the Redskins to stick with Hall. But you can’t rule out the team moving on if Hall won’t take a pay cut.
El-Bashir: When Hall went down with a toe injury in late September, my immediate thought was that his tenure in Washington—and perhaps his distinguished NFL career—may be nearing its end.
Now, though, it looks like we’re witnessing a rebirth of sorts, as Hall completed a smooth pivot from cornerback to safety in the second half of the season. Over the final seven regular season games and the Wild Card playoff loss, the three-time Pro Bowl corner proved that he possesses the football acumen and tackling ability to thrive at safety, as well.
Gruden has indicated that he wants Hall back. And Hall has indicated that he wants to be back (which is important to note if, as Tandler pointed out, he's asked to take a pay cut). In fact, Hall seemed downright giddy at times talking about how the position change has breathed new life into a job that had begun to grow stale, while simultaneously helping him physically.
Based on all that and the Redskins’ need at safety, I don’t really see how Hall doesn’t return. It also helps that he's versatile enough to play virtually anywhere in the secondary.
Charles Woodson did it. Rod Woodson and Ronde Barber did it, too. And now it looks as though DeAngelo Hall will be the next accomplished corner to make the successful transition to safety...and tack a few quality years onto his career. Which is good news for a Redskins’ franchise that’s seemingly always in need of help on the backend.
25 Questions series
- Wednesday: Is McCoy the answer at backup QB for the Redskins?
- Thursday: Should the Redskins try to keep Alfred Morris?
- Friday: Should the Redskins cut Andre Roberts?
- Yesterday: Will there be a surprise cap casualty?
- Today: Will DeAngelo Hall return?
- Tomorrow: Should the Redskins draft a quarterback?