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Should the Redskins Punt Their Kicker?

Feb 15, 2006, 9:26 AM EDT

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at rtandler@comcast.net

On the list of players that the Redskins will take a hard look at cutting in their efforts to trim enough salary money to get under the cap is kicker John Hall. His cap number for 2006 is $1.4 million and waiving him would save a net of $780,000. That’s not a huge amount, but three quarters of a million bucks here and there and pretty soon we’re talking about some real money.

Should the Redskins make this move and release Hall, who turns 32 on St. Patrick’s Day?

If it’s strictly a money decision, the answer is probably not. Again, his cap number is fairly significant, but it’s not like the team can go without a kicker on its roster counting something against the cap. A big-name replacement such as the Colts’ Mike Vanderjagt or the Patriots’ Adam Vinatieri would almost certainly count more against the cap than does Hall. Even a lesser veteran such as San Francisco’s Joe Nedney wouldn’t offer much in terms of savings if any at all.

The other route to replace Hall would be to get a few younger legs and let them battle it out in camp. That’s a high-risk strategy, but it’s the only one that will save any significant money.

So, do you get rid of Hall because of performance reasons? The last image of Hall for the 2005 season was him going wide left with a 36-yard field goal that would have brought the Redskins within four of the eventual NFC champion Seahawks in the fourth quarter of their divisional playoff game. That and the five games he missed with a leg injury tend to make many view him as a liability.

What those people forget is that he missed just two field goals during the regular season. To be sure, one was a potential game-winner in the fourth quarter against San Diego, but that was a 52-yard attempt, an iffy proposition for most kickers. He’s not one of these tiny guys who are afraid of contact; he wears a defender’s burgundy jersey at practice while his fellow kickers don the traditional white of offensive players. It’s part of his linebacker mentality.

So the choices are these—pay more for a “star” kicker, go into the large pool of untested kickers and hope you strike gold like the Cardinals did with Neil Rakers or stick with the flawed but known quantity in Hall.

The view here is that, barring some change in the labor agreement that creates some money for the Redskins to go after the likes of Vinatieri, the Redskins are better off sticking with Hall. He’s on a very short list of players I’d like to see attempting a 40-yarder in December to get into the playoffs and the only one that the team can reasonably afford.

  1. Anonymous - Feb 15, 2006 at 10:06 AM

    can we just release him and sign novak? is novak a free agent?

  2. TrickyBuddha - Feb 17, 2006 at 5:17 PM

    I say keep John Hall and punt the punter.

    Hall is a decent, reliable kicker and his salary isn’t insane. Special teams are important, and you shouldn’t skimp. We’re not breaking the bank for him. So long as he’s healthy, I’m confident. Plus, he’s got range on his kick-offs and that’s a boon.

    Our punter is our liability. Second-worst in gross average, in the NFC. Below the middle of the pack in net. Above the middle of the pack in returns allowed (i.e. more of his punts are returned than other punters witness, i.e. bad). He had a lot of punts go for TBs, but I suppose that’s acceptable with the decent number he got inside the 20 – as well as those that were FC. Then again, for the number of punts he had, it’s not that impressive.

    Punt the punter. Keep the kicker.

  3. Anonymous - Feb 17, 2006 at 10:30 PM

    Tricky, I’ll admit I don’t ahve the stats in front of me, but I seem to recall Hall having a LOT of short kickoffs near the end of the season.

  4. Rich Tandler - Feb 17, 2006 at 10:33 PM

    Hall did have some short KO’s, but they weren’t returned very far. The average return against them was just shy of the 30, not very good, but there were few long ones.

    Put it this way–would you rather see Hall’s ugly ducks returned to the 35 or see him execute those high, arching beauties that Betts and Brown returned for TD’s?

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