For the second time in three years, Leon Hall is spending his offseason recovering from a torn Achilles injury. According to most reports, mostly from a confident Leon Hall, Cincinnati's star cornerback should be ready for training camp.
However, that shouldn't be the only thing concerning Hall during the offseason.
Despite being signed through 2015 with base salaries of $6.8 million and $7.7 million in '14 and '15 respectively, Hall has no guaranteed money remaining on his current deal (save for the annual workout bonus of $100,000). NOTE: As a vested veteran, his base salary in 2014 will be guaranteed if he's on the roster in the first week of the regular season... which he will be, so in a way, it's guaranteed if he's released after the first regular season weekend. Plus, he won't be released.
With a cap value of $8.7 million and $9.6 million over the next two seasons and coming off another torn Achilles, there are legitimate questions in regards to his durability. According to one case study, an athlete who suffered an Achilles rupture had a 4.5 percent chance of re-rupturing that same Achilles. Multiple studies also suggests that when someone ruptures their Achilles, there's an increased likelihood of tearing the other -- which has already happened.
Not only does the injury carry a 6-8 month (sometimes more) rehabilitation process, it takes time for players to find their footing. During the regular season opener in '12 (several months after his first Achilles tear), Hall allowed 52-yard pass and a touchdown. During his first two games in '12, he allowed 10 of 14 passes to find their receivers. He was forced to sit in week three and four with a strained calf -- theoretically because he's protecting his Achilles by over-taxing his calf. From week 12 through week 14, Hall had three consecutive games in which he allowed an opposing passer rating of over 100 with two touchdowns allowed.
It wasn't until week 15 that Hall returned to a consistent shutdown corner, recording an interception in three of the final four games (including the Wild Card game) while scoring two touchdowns against the Steelers and Texans.
Because Hall doesn't have the fiscal security for his future and the durability questions that should concern the Bengals, perhaps it's time to examine the need to restructure his existing contract.
Joel Corry with the National Football Post does a better job explaining the benefits for both sides if a deal is restructured:
Contract restructures have become standard operating procedure in the NFL, particularly for teams with tight salary cap situations. In a typical restructuring (without taking a paycut), a player will convert some portion of his base salary and/or roster bonus into a signing bonus, which is prorated or spread out evenly over the life of a contract (most other salary components usually can’t be prorated) for a maximum of five years. The team gets a lower cap number in the current season while the player gains more short-term security and potentially a better payment schedule in the current year of his contract. The player’s cap numbers in the remaining contract years also increase. If the player is considered as one of the team’s integral components, the higher cap numbers in those remaining contract years could make him a candidate for a new contract sooner rather later with increased leverage.
Hall will, and should be, here in 2014 and the foreseeable future -- especially once there's confidence that the Achilles injuries are behind him. However, with the team's cap number increasing with extensions given to Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, with more likely coming, it wouldn't be a stretch for Cincinnati to restructure Hall's deal.