There have been several quality players taking one-year deals in the last few days, which may signal that agents expect next year’s market to be better for players (possibly due to the artificially low cap this year). Whether that is true or not, the team can no longer afford to risk losing Hall. The franchise tag amount for CBs was artificially high this year due to renegotiated contracts to take advantage of last year’s lack of a cap. Not enough salary cap detail has been made available to predict next year’s franchise amounts so let’s assume that isn’t an option.
Here are the highest paid players at the CB position right now:
Nnamdi Asomugha ($12.00/yr, $25 SB)
Darrelle Revis ($11.50/yr, $32 SB)
Charles Woodson ($11.17/yr, SB unknown)
Champ Bailey ($10.75/yr, $22 SB)
Stanford Routt ($10.50/yr, $20 SB)
Jonathan Joseph ($9.75/yr, $23.5 SB)
Asante Samuel ($9.50/yr, $20 SB) – signed in 2008!
Dunta Robinson ($9.50/yr, $25.5 SB)
Chris Gamble ($9.00/yr, $23 SB)
DeAngelo Hall ($9.00/yr, $22.5 SB)
Kelvin Hayden ($8.60/yr, $22.5 SB) – signed in 2009; released this week
Corey Webster ($8.60/yr, $20 SB)
Note: “SB” refers to guarantees not just signing bonuses
Asomugha, Revis, Bailey, Samuel and Woodson are perennial pro-bowlers and certainly better than Hall. Hall however has been incredibly health (zero games missed so far in his career), averages 4.5 INTs a year and is a solid tackler. Statistically he’s been ranked highly but that he struggles against elite competition and when he doesn’t have enough help over the top since his top end speed is limited (see this link for an excellent and detailed analysis). But the contract averages are so close, especially with the annual bump seen at the start of each new offseason, that Hall should likely command a deal similar to what Houston gave Joseph. Prediction: 6 years, $10.50/yr, $25 SB).
Getting the deal done now is especially important. One, the team has plenty of cap space (~$30M prior to Clements’ signing) to front load the deal via a roster bonus and/or signing bonus paid this year which will surely appeal to Hall and help keep the price tag down. Two, his value could go up if Zimmer is able to bring more pressure on the QB like he started to get out of the defense at the end of last year. More pressure = bad decisions from the QB = more picks by the secondary.
Getting Clements should help shore up the position for 2011, especially with Adam Jones out for a few games. Ghee has the measurables to be a solid player but he’s been unable to get on the field at all outside of special teams. Trent might not be healthy enough to even play this year. As for 2012 and beyond, I suspect the team will look to draft a CB early rather than tap into the free agent market – especially since Clements will still be on the roster presumably. There aren’t a lot of household names on the 2012 draft watch list though: Chase Minnifield (Virginia), Alfonso Dennard (Nebraska), Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama), Omar Bolden (Arizona State), among others.