Can the Washington Redskins Survive on Defense Without DeAngelo Hall?

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 11, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 06:   DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins reacts during the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedExField on January 6, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The good news is the Washington Redskins are now under the salary cap (barely). The bad news is they're down a starting cornerback and have no money to spend on a replacement. 

As a result, one of the league's weakest secondaries just got weaker, and it looks as though there's little hope for the team's horrendous pass defense to improve in 2013. 

How much do you despise the NFL and NFLPA for robbing the team of $36 million worth of cap space right about now, Redskins fans?

Releasing DeAngelo Hall saved the Redskins $8 million according to CSN Washington's Tarik El-Bashir, but it leaves everyone wondering who'll be covering guys like Victor Cruz, Jeremy Maclin and Miles Austin this season. 

Hall may have been a pain at times and he certainly left a lot to be desired in the consistency department, but he had a strong second half of 2012 and was the team's best corner when the season was on the line in December and January. He was also the most versatile member of the secondary because of his ability to cover inside and outside and the physical presence he brought to the defense. 

With nickel corner Cedric Griffin set to become an unrestricted free agent in less than 24 hours and the 'Skins still clawing for spare change to sign even bottom-of-the-barrel options on the open market, 2012 seventh-round pick Richard Crawford could at least temporarily be thrown into a starting role as the team prepares for a draft in which it doesn't possess a first-round pick. 

I apologize for the heavy dosage of doom and gloom, but I wrote at the beginning of the month that this was the type of move the 'Skins couldn't afford to make, at least from a personnel standpoint. 

Unfortunately, from a financial standpoint, it was a move they couldn't afford not to make. I would have preferred for them to wave goodbye to Santana Moss while cutting Hall's salary, but I guess the Redskins decided that was either unfeasible or less prudent. 

This team could have survived the loss of Moss, but I'm not sure it can get by with Josh Wilson and Crawford starting at cornerback. Even if they go heavy on defensive backs in the draft, they'll enter 2013 with far too little experience in coverage, which is trouble when 38 percent of your games come against high-powered passing attacks in New York, Dallas and Philadelphia

The bright side is that it does look as though Moss will remain with the team, at least for now, and locking up left guard Kory Lichtensteiger over the weekend was a terrific move. If Robert Griffin III can continue to recover from knee surgery at a strong rate, this offense will again be a force in 2013.

The problem is that, based on what's happening with the defense, they might have to win track meets throughout the year.