By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
The biggest move the Redskins have made so far in free agency has not been an addition but a subtraction. To save $8 million in salary cap they released DeAngelo Hall, who took almost every snap at cornerback for the four and a half years he was with the Redskins.
Everyone knew that the Redskins weren’t going to keep Hall and pay him $8 million. His level of play didn’t warrant such a salary. But Mike Shanahan indicated that the Redskins did not offer him an opportunity to stay at reduced pay, an option they gave Santana Moss and other veterans. The move leaves the Redskins with one cornerback on the roster, Josh Wilson, who has stared an NFL game.
Was releasing Hall and starting fresh at the position the way to go? Or should the Redskins have negotiated with Hall to figure out a way he could have stayed at a price that both sides cold have lived with? Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir debate the question in this week’s edition of Point-Counterpoint.
Rich Tandler: Last week I tweeted out that many Redskins fans would rather have a ham sandwich playing cornerback than DeAngelo Hall. The team, apparently, has chosen the ham sandwich. Hall is not the Pro Bowl corner he once was. In fact, even when he went to the Pro Bowl he wasn’t among the best corners out there. But he is a competent, experienced NFL cornerback and in a passing league it makes little sense to just toss one in the trash. Hall hinted strongly that he would be willing to play for less. But the Redskins decided to move on without an alternative in place.
Tarik El-Bashir: He offered to take a significant pay cut … and got released anyway. According toProFootballFocus.com, Hall surrendered the second most yards (1,045) among all starting cornerbacks. PFF also credited Hall with 13 missed tackles - fourth most among corners. Was it an off year for a former Pro Bowler? Or was it an indication that Hall's best years are in the squarely in the rearview? That’s always a tough one to figure out (especially when the 29-year-old had some solid efforts mixed in there). But when you’re a team facing an $18 million cap penalty, you can’t afford to be wrong when with faced such questions.
Tandler: Does Hall get burned a lot? Yes, but not as much as PFF would have you believe. And when the Redskins really needed it, he put the clamps on Dez Bryant in the regular season finale to help the Redskins win their first division title in over a decade. Can they find a cornerback the PFF ranks higher than Hall from among the couple of dozen free agent CB’s out there? Probably. But they probably will pay a replacement what they could have ended up paying Hall and the new guy will have to learn the defense and mesh with his new teammates. Why go through all that when they could have just kept Hall?
El-Bashir: Continuity and chemistry can be very powerful factors in sports – when things go well, that is. But the numbers do not lie. Individually, Hall struggled to be consistent in pass coverage. (He also was assessed seven penalties, tied for the third most on the team). As a group, the entire secondary struggled. The Redskins yielded the third most passing yards and permitted second most touchdowns through the air. Was that all D-Hall’s fault? Of course not. But after a season like that, the backend was in need of a shakeup, an injection of new blood. And I suspect that D-Hall's numbers -- and his enormous cap hit -- provided the Redskins’ coaching staff with a convenient reason to do just that.