It is a normal question asked to most players about to hit unrestricted free agency, and Hatcher, who had two sacks in the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to finish the season with a career-high 11, made it clear that he will be going to the highest bidder.
“I'm going to get what I deserve and get what I'm worth,” Hatcher said. “Age don't matter. Whatever. If you ain't talking what I want, I don't want to talk to ‘em.”
Hatcher did not go all Tank Johnson on us. If you remember, Johnson walked off the field after the Cowboys’ season-ending loss to the Eagles in 2008 by saying, “I’m a free agent, baby.”
Hatcher also thanked the Cowboys and the Jones family for the opportunity to play here for eight years. He never officially closed the door but he knows the team is in a difficult position to keep a defensive tackle who turns 32 in July and has had one great season.
He might see other teams have the same reaction. Paying age in free agency is never a good thing for any team. Last year’s defensive line market was awful and could be sign of things to come in free agency.
But the proper answer to the question after the game would have been, “Our season just ended. I’m disappointed we lost. We’ll talk about the future later.”
Hatcher’s funniest moment came after the Cowboys beat the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. He poured fake vampire blood on his face and made reference to Jason Pierre-Paul’s “blood will be spilled,” comment leading into the game.
But as he finished speaking, Hatcher said, “2014 Pro Bowl. Holla at your boy.”
In the middle of what was the biggest win of the season up to that point, Hatcher was thinking about the Pro Bowl. Hatcher had two sacks in that game, giving him nine in the first 11 games of the season. When the Pro Bowl rosters were announced last week, Hatcher was not picked.
Like the free agency answer, his Pro Bowl shout-out seemed curious.
But Hatcher’s season has been about wanting/craving a mega-deal. He dropped hints from training camp on about his future. He was glad Stephen Jones said on the radio during the year that Hatcher outperformed the three-year, $6 million deal he signed in 2011. Maybe, but he never had more than 4.5 sacks in a season before 2013.
Free agency is about timing. Hatcher’s first time to cash in came after the lockout when the signing period was shorter once the NFL and players association came to a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Stephen Bowen played in the 3-4 scheme with the Cowboys, never started more than nine games in a season, never had more than three sacks in a season and the Washington Redskins gave him $12.5 million guaranteed in 2011.
Hatcher chose to re-sign with the Cowboys once the lockout ended. He knew the scheme he was staying in. He could have found a home in a 4-3, but took the deal with the Cowboys.
Now he will get a chance to test the market and he will likely find more money elsewhere.
He will get what he has always wanted.