ASHBURN, Virginia -- The possible last home game of his career began with Washington Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall in an unusual spot: on the sideline as a healthy scratch. It’s possible he’ll end his career that way as well when the Redskins play at the New York Giants on Sunday. While quarterback Kirk Cousins has garnered the headlines, he's far from the only one who might not play with Washington anymore after this season.
And Hall is the longest-tenured player with the franchise. When it comes to his future, Hall repeated what he’s been saying for more than a month. He’s not sure what he’s going to do in the future: try to play another year, become a broadcaster or find a job in a front office.
Regardless, if this is the end, it’s not the way the 34-year-old Hall would have envisioned it unfolding.
“It was hard, but life’s hard,” he said of being inactive. “In one ear and out the other. I was on the sidelines trying to root for my guys to win a game.
“That’s the nature of the business. It ain’t personal. It wasn’t a personal shot at me; it’s the business. I understand that. I’ve been around this long enough.”
Hall didn’t know he might be inactive in the days leading up to last week’s game vs. Denver. Coach Jay Gruden said they didn’t even know which direction they’d go until three hours before kickoff. They opted to use rookie Fish Smithson as the third safety, ostensibly because he could play on special teams. Gruden said Hall remained a leader in the secondary room, serving as an example of how to work.
“He’s a total pro about it like he has been since I’ve known him,” Gruden said. “It’s unfortunate but that’s just the way it is in pro football. Fish is a little bit more helpful on kickoff coverage and some of the other [special] teams units. That’s the route we chose to go and D-Hall was fine.”
But Hall is a competitor and, though he understood he was struggling upon his return from a torn ACL, this can’t be the way he saw his 14-year career being capped; he’s been with Washington since midway through the 2008 season.
Still, he’s been at peace about whatever his future holds.
“I’m taking it all in stride. I feel good, I’m blessed. I’m healthy and my kids are healthy,” Hall said. “I can still run and play and do whatever I want to do. It just comes down to me figuring out what I want to do and if I want to keep playing or go do something else. I have a couple different options, and I’ll sit back this offseason and weigh this and figure out what I want to do.
“I’m not rushing the process. I’m taking my time figuring out what I want to do.”
He’s not the only possible key Redskins player who is a pending free agent and might be playing his last game with Washington Sunday:
Quarterback Kirk Cousins: This has been discussed quite a bit, in case you haven’t noticed. It would not make good business sense to use the franchise tag on him at a cost of $34.5 million, unless the Redskins plan to use that tactic to trade him. And even the transition tag at a cost of $28.8 million is prohibitive. The Redskins have felt they made him a strong offer last offseason (two years, $53 million, though the first $24 million included the franchise tag he was playing under. So, in essence, it was a one-year addition for $29 million guaranteed). This simply feels like a couple that is engaged but will never get married.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland: The Redskins have long known it would be tough to re-sign Breeland, a fourth-round pick in 2014 who turned into a four-year starter. Breeland will be costly to keep, and with Josh Norman on the other side, they don’t want to spend that much at one position. Norman will count $17 million against the cap next season. Also, they have Quinton Dunbar (a restricted free agent) and rookie Fabian Moreau as possible replacements on the outside. They also could shift Kendall Fuller outside, though he’s excelled in the slot this season.
Tight end Niles Paul: He’s been with Washington since 2011 and has been a help on special teams. He was switched from receiver to tight end after his first season and played some fullback when needed this year. If he returns, it would likely be for less than the $2.2 million he played for in 2017. But he’d also return knowing he might be a fourth tight end, which means less playing time.
Linebacker Junior Galette: He’s made it known that he wants an opportunity to get more reps somewhere. The Redskins have liked what he’s done, especially of late, but they’re not going to play him ahead of Ryan Kerrigan or Preston Smith. They just drafted Ryan Anderson last year (though he had no sacks), and they’d also like to keep Trent Murphy, who missed the season with a torn ACL.
Receiver Ryan Grant: The coaches would love to have him back. He's caught 43 passes for 550 yards and four touchdowns. They'd like to add someone with speed, but there's little doubt they'd like to retain Grant, as well.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins: The Redskins released Nick Rose earlier this month to return Hopkins from injured reserve, so they clearly like him. He has a strong leg and has made 13 of 15 field goals this season. He had a terrific first season in 2015, making 25 of 28 kicks, but then he slumped to 34-of-42 last season.