Veteran defensive tackle Jason Hatcher reached an agreement with the Washington Redskins.
Jordan Woy, Hatcher's agent, provided the news on Thursday:
DL Jason Hatcher agrees to terms with Redskins. Can't respond to all reporters.— Jordan Woy (@JordanWoy) March 13, 2014
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the contract is for four years:
Washington giving former Dallas DL Jason Hatcher a 4-year deal.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2014
Clarence Hill of The Dallas Morning News provides financial details of the deal:
Now for the money: Jason Hatcher's deal with the skins is four years, $27.5 million, per source— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) March 13, 2014
NFL Network's Michael Fabiano speaks about the Cowboys' painful free agency, highlighted by the loss of Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware:
This free-agent period has been like a shot to the groin if you're a Cowboys fan.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) March 13, 2014
Even though Hatcher will be 32 years old by the time the 2014 NFL season begins, which is often considered the back end of a player's prime, he entered free agency on a high note. He registered 11 sacks in 15 games for the Dallas Cowboys last season, establishing himself as one of the NFL's top interior pass-rushers.
How would you grade this signing?
The Cowboys drafted the Grambling State product in the third round of the 2006 draft. He was a solid rotational player during the early stages of his career before an increased role over the past three years showed he could be an impactful starter.
In an era when every team is seeking more ways to pressure the opposing quarterback, a defensive tackle who can generate heat up the middle is a valuable resource. So it didn't come as a surprise that Hatcher generated plenty of interest.
Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas reported there were at least seven or eight teams involved:
Jason Hatcher has 7-8 teams interested in his services.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) March 9, 2014
Hatcher didn't jump at the first opportunity or sign during his opening visit. As expected, he decided to go through the free-agent process by getting a closer look at every option that was on the table before making a final call.
He said before the market opened this would be his plan of attack:
Let the count down begin. I'm going to enjoy the process and let God lead the way. #freeagency— BIG DADDY (@hatcher97) March 7, 2014
Now that he has decided on his landing spot, the next question is what to expect in 2014.
If he can match his production from 2013, then this signing will represent good value. Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus provided some advanced analysis, which showed Hatcher ranked fourth among interior rushers last season:
How much is Jason Hatcher worth? One of the top interior pass rushers, but going on 32 years old pic.twitter.com/dUXxTJfJjd— Steve Palazzolo (@StevePalazzolo) March 11, 2014
That said, it's fair to wonder if he'll be able to match that production. He had just 16 sacks in his first seven years and never had five in any single season before enjoying his late breakout campaign. Whether he will build off that or drop off a bit is the unknown.
Ultimately, taking a chance on Hatcher wasn't the worst free-agent option. But it's exactly that—taking a chance.