Redskins Sign DeAngelo Hall to Add Depth at Cornerback

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Washington Redskins agreed to terms with free agent cornerback DeAngelo Hall on a one-year deal yesterday, according to sources, adding a two-time Pro Bowl performer who was released by the Oakland Raiders earlier in the week.

Hall will make a prorated $1 million over the final seven games for the Redskins this season, then will be eligible for unrestricted free agency. The team has been looking to add more skill and youth at cornerback, and, depending on his performance and ability to fit into Washington's locker room, the Redskins could consider re-signing Hall in the offseason.

The Redskins made no guarantee of a starting spot or a specific amount of playing time, according to a source, telling Hall coaches would evaluate him in practice and games.

Hall, 24, is a Chesapeake, Va., native and former all-American at Virginia Tech. While Hall has mentioned a desire to live in Virginia at some point, there was no discussion of a long-term deal. Both sides instead will wait to see if Hall turns out to be a good fit, and to that end, the Redskins granted Hall's request that the team refrain from placing a franchise tag on him.

Drafted eighth overall by Atlanta in 2004, Hall made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006 but alienated some teammates and coaches with his outspoken nature while with the Falcons. Oakland waived Hall after just half a season there.

Hall, when in top form, has elite coverage skills and innate natural ability returning punts or interceptions. But he was beaten on big plays in Oakland and was deemed expendable despite the team trading two picks to acquire him in the offseason and awarding him a seven-year, $70 million contract.

Hall cleared waivers, in large part because of his hefty contract, but drew interest from many teams as a free agent, according to sources, with the Redskins one of three teams still courting him as of yesterday morning.

Hall was not seeking a big contract now, hoping to join a team where he can shine and then explore the free agent market in 2009. Washington's proximity to his home town, the team's system (a press-man coverage system in which corners are put in position to make plays on the ball with great regularity) and the Redskins' 6-3 record all helped sway him, according to sources.

Hall joined a group of corners that, when healthy, already boasted ample depth. Top cornerback Carlos Rogers has been playing at a Pro Bowl level, while veteran stalwart Shawn Springs is slated to come back from a calf injury for the next game. Fred Smoot has performed adequately as well, though, like Springs, he is often hobbled by injuries. Leigh Torrence had been the fourth corner.

Springs often has practiced at free safety and could play more there now in games, which would allow playmaking safety LaRon Landry to get more snaps around the line of scrimmage and on blitzes.

Given the run of injuries at corner in recent years, the Redskins have been interested in bolstering the reserves. Hall's presence could create an awkward dynamic with Rogers, according to team sources, given the fact he and Hall can both be acutely confident with a certain swagger.

Hall has turned off teammates with some of his brash statements and antics and can be a divisive personality. Several Redskins said they will be interested to see if he is comfortable being a complementary part, or has a desire to be perceived as the No. 1 corner.

The Redskins utilize a considerable amount of nickel and dime coverage in general, and, with linebacker Marcus Washington having more of a limited role now, Hall's addition could lead to even more of those formations. Hall has 20 interceptions in 65 career games (with two touchdowns) and set a career high with six interceptions in 2005, and his open-field running resulted in several highlight-reel plays. Hall returned his four interceptions in 2006 for an average of 33 yards -- swaying field position in his team's favor, something the Redskins have lacked. In 2005, he averaged 30 yards per interception return.

He returned punts in Atlanta -- an area of concern for the Redskins -- and intercepted three passes this season, but, according to STATS, Inc, also was susceptible to breakdowns. Offenses threw at Hall 66 times, completing 40 passes for 566 yards.

The Redskins will have to make a roster move to create space for Hall once he is signed. Options include placing rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly on injured reserve, releasing recently signed safety Mike Green or waiving a rookie such as cornerback Justin Tryon, defensive end Rob Jackson or safety Kareem Moore.

Redskins Notes: Smoot was fined $5,000 for a uniform violation in the game against Pittsburgh, according to a source. . . . Pittsburgh LB LaMarr Woodley was fined $10,000 for roughing the passer for a hit on Jason Campbell. Woodley threw Campbell to the ground violently during a sack, a play Campbell said he thought was "excessive." Woodley had been fined earlier this season for roughing the passer on Sept. 14.

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