With the biggest days of NFL free agency having passed, we're now seeing a new market develop for less-heralded players.
With most of the big names off the market, teams are regrouping and looking at the middle-tier free agents like former Bengals cornerback Leon Hall. Hall has drawn virtually no interest from around the league to this point as guys like Janoris Jenkins, Brent Grimes, Sean Smith and Adam Jones have signed new deals.
ESPN's Adam Schefter now reports that Hall will meet with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.
Bengals free-agent CB Leon Hall scheduled to visit Arizona on Monday, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2016
Arizona is a place where several former Bengals have gone over the years, so it's not too surprising Hall is set to meet with them. Frostee Rucker, Carson Palmer and Jermaine Gresham have all joined the Cardinals since 2013, so why not make it four with Hall.
The former 18th-overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Michigan, Hall joined the Bengals and became one of the NFL's top corners over the next four seasons. From 2007-10, Hall would pick off 18 passes and deflect another 71 as he and Johnathan Joseph became the NFL's best cornerback tandem.
The future looked bright for Hall as he was on pace to give Ken Riley's franchise mark of 65 career picks a run, not to mention signing a lucrative contract before the 2011 season began. But after signing that four-year, $39-million contract extension in 2011, Hall has since suffered two torn Achilles tendons and intercepted just eight passes during the last five seasons.
That second tear has also led to a steady decline in Hall's play over the past two seasons, so much so that the Bengals are letting him walk with no apparent fight to keep him. Hall also finished as Pro Football Focus' 33rd-ranked corner this past season, but that's a bit deceiving since opponents tended to go after Dre Kirkpatrick on the boundary more.
And with Hall playing mostly in the slot, the Bengals essentially are able to hide him as most teams' top two pass-catchers don't line up in the slot where he primarily defended. Combined with the Bengals having a dominant pass rush this past season, Hall was exposed far less than he would have been in a lot of defenses, and he seemingly will be replaced by guys like Josh Shaw, Darqueze Dennard and even Chris Lewis-Harris, who all performed well in limited snaps.
All of this is why Hall has likely played his last down with the Bengals, unless he's willing to return on a small deal and play a little safety next year. He's played there occasionally over the past two years, and with Reggie Nelson likely gone, the Bengals could use more veteran depth on the back end of their defense.
If this is the end of Hall's career in Cincinnati, we should remember and cherish the good memories he brought the Bengals, not his decline toward the end of it. He's easily one of the NFL's better corners of the past decade, and there were times he was playing at an elite level where few receivers were able to get open on him.