On DeAngelo Hall and Contract Value

The Washington Redskins re-signed cornerback DeAngelo Hall last week to a 1-year, $1.25 million contract with $1 million available in NLTBE (not likely to be earned) incentives based on "pro bowl appearance and playing time."  This is a really good value contract for the Redskins if they can get something out of Hall this year, and for sake of comparison, the Redskins gave Cedric Griffin a $3 million contract last year.

Pro bowl related incentives aside, the real news from this contract is that at age 30, DeAngelo Hall is a year-by-year NFL player near the end of his career.  The Redskins got really good value on what they think is a starting corner, although it's worth pointing out that Hall is the third highest paid corner on the Redskins roster, because E.J. Biggers was able to turn a stronger market into a $1.5 million offer from the Redskins.  The fact that the Redskins were not willing to go that high combined with the fact that Hall accepted the Redskins offer shows that he wants to be a Redskin and that he also didn't have any other offers.

I would think that E.J. Biggers will have the first shot to win the job, but Hall is a stronger personality, which goes a long way in determining coaching decisions in terms of who plays, who sits.  That has long been the downside with Hall: none of his coaches have been willing to use the bench as a motivational tool for getting him to improve.  If the 2013 Redskins coaches were able to keep Hall off the field, they would be the first.  He's going to play a lot in 2013, which is the downside.

DeAngelo Hall is an interesting player in that I'm not sure we've seen an NFL player in a long time quite like him.  I think, to his credit, he's come this far after he spent a lot of time playing for circus acts, instead of competive NFL teams in Atlanta, Oakland, and Washington.  Of course, you can't necessarily completely separate cause and effect here, and the Redskins did strip Hall of captain duties last year before winning 9 games in a row.  Again, that's not to imply cause and effect of the two events, but its a bit curious given the rest of Hall's career.

I'm going to quickly recap what we know about Hall after nine seasons: he lacks even basic coverage nuance, and you don't have to have any pedigree in this league to beat him one on one.  There's a number of ways you can measure this, but maybe the most obvious is that Hall never gets called for defensive holding or pass interference because he is rarely a factor in a passing play at all.  While it's good that he doesn't ALSO add pass interference and holding to his repitore, you don't need to dig that much deeper to understand why the only flags he consistently draws are for facemasks and unnecessary roughless: he's late to the party every single play.

Hall is an asset in run and screen defense.  This wasn't always the case, but it has been the case for 3, perhaps 3 and a half years now since he joined the Redskins.  He's not a great tackler, but he sheds blocks very well for a player his size, and will throw his body around in order to make plays.  He's been a bit more injured in recent years because of his reckless playing style, but it gives significant value to having him on the edge of the defense because he is willing to do those things.

With the ball in his hand following an interception or fumble, Hall offers rare return ability and scores a fair amount of touchdowns.  This is where his reputation as a playmaker comes from.  Hall spends a lot of time trying to hunt for interceptions that do not always come, but when they do come, Hall very often makes the most of them.

The $1.25 million dollar question is whether you can get positive value from DeAngelo Hall, in other words, whether you're better off with him on the field than without him on the field.  That's not entirely clear today.  For the second half of 2012, there was more good than bad with Hall, and he was easily worth $1.25 million.  In 2011, he was hurt and probably not worth his roster spot.  He'll be 30 in 2013, so this is still a pretty good shot for the Redskins to take.  The Redskins have seen both the good and bad with Hall over the years, and this contract is simply not that much to bet on the former.  

When you consider that Hall is a year to year player in terms of his contract, the Redskins are going to bet on Hall raising his level of play for less money, which is pretty smart.

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