Rumor Mill: Hunting For DBs?

The New England Patriots signed one defensive back this week, so why were they trying to land another. Just how close were they to landing DeAngelo Hall?

Were the Patriots looking for another cornerback?

That was the early indication from a number of media sources reporting that New England was one of nearly a half-dozen teams considering signing recently released Raiders defensive back DeAngelo Hall.

That was until Hall opted to sign a deal with the Washington Redskins late Thursday afternoon.

Hall selected Washington based upon playing close to home an NFL.com report indicated. He agreed to a one-year deal $1 million pro-rated deal with the Redskins pending a physical. In turn the Redskins promised not to place the Franchise Tag on Hall next season.

More interesting that the deal that Hall signed was the level of interest he received. More than half-dozen teams were reportedly pursuing the free agent corner, including the head coaches from the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots. The NFL.com report indicated that both Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick contact Hall to persuade him to join their contending teams. Instead, Hall preferred to stay close to home in Washington. Hall played his college ball at Virginia Tech for the same reason.

DB DeAngelo Hall pursued by the Steelers and the Patriots, among others
(Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Hall, a 7-year $70 million free agent prized acquisition by the Raiders this off-season, is just the latest in a series of high drama storylines coming out of the Bay area. Raiders head honcho Al Davis has opted to cut ties with the defender before paying another cent on that contract. Hall gets to keep the guaranteed $8 signing bonus and nearly $1 million salary for the 8 games he did play in Oakland while the Raiders are off the hook for another $16 million in injury-related guarantees.

According to Hall's Agent Joel Segal, the free agent cornerback planned on considering all of his options, fielding inquiries from postseason contenders.

"We're meeting with DeAngelo, going over some scenarios, taking it a day at a time," Segal told the Boston Herald Thursday night. "We're looking for a situation where he can help a team for the playoff drive."

The Patriots were among the half dozen teams believed to be pursuing Hall.

The New York Giants, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints and the Steelers were also in the mix according to reports.

Even the Baltimore Ravens were an option for the Raiders cast off according to the Carroll County Times. Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan (twin brother to Oakland's coordinator Rob Ryan - Hall's coach) said he did talk about Hall with some of the Raven's yesterday, but supposedly wasn't able to use his family connection to get any inside information on the Hall situation.

"I tried to, but he's, for some reason, not returning calls," Ryan said with a smile, according to the Times. "So, I guess they've got some issues out there."

The Raiders had already made a number of controversial moves this year. In addition to overpaying for Hall, they signed free agent wide receiver Javon Walker to an overpriced 6-year, $55 million contract while he was coming back from a knee injury. They also chose to give defensive lineman Tommy Kelly a 7-year, $50.5 million contract extension.

According to Scout.com's Adam Caplan, The Patriots would be interested in Hall for different reasons than they ones that caused them to sign CB Jason Webster one day earlier. "Webster was added for depth," Caplan said via email Thursday. "I could see them taking a risk on Hall because Oakland plays man coverage and New England plays some of that."

Without Hall, what will the Patriots do?

They'll probably try to make it with the guys they have, according to Patriots Insider Jon Scott. New England flirted with free agent Ty Law, who is still available. They had a number of other defensive backs in for a look early on, but have opted to stay with the players they have.

Hall could have been an upgrade over the team's current players, but losing out on signing him, won't kill the Patriots. They still have Mike Richardson (2007 7th round draft pick), Jonathan Wilhite (2008 4th round draft pick), Antwain Spann, and a few players trying to get healthy; Lewis Sanders (hamstring), Terrence Wheatley (wrist), Ellis Hobbs (shoulder).

If push comes to shove, New England can move Brandon Meriweather back to a cover safety, and slide Antwain Spann back to more of a free safety.

For More players available via free agency see:
Adam Caplan's Best Available Defensive Players

 


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