When DeAngelo Hall signed a six-year, $54 million contract with the Washington, D.C., professional football team in 2009, it was the money that was on his mind. Still young and looking for a payday, the large offer from Washington was too good to be ignored.
Over a decade later as he reflects on his NFL career, that decision brings Hall some regret. Washington wasn't the only team involved in the negotiations during that offseason, as the New England Patriots showed interest. Opting to go elsewhere has him still thinking about the "what ifs" today.
"When I signed to play half the season with Washington in 2008, there was a line in my contract that said the team could not franchise tag me that next season. I remember negotiations for a new deal with Washington weren't going well, and there were other teams in the picture, including New England," Hall told NFL.com. "At that time, players didn't take short-term deals, but Randy Moss had just signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Patriots. I couldn't believe it."
New England, despite coming off a 2008 season in which they didn't make the postseason, was still a franchise that was consistently finding success in the league. Joining Bill Belichick and company would have offered Hall a better chance at winning a ring. Additionally, he believed he could sign a contract similar to the one Moss had recently agreed to, allowing him a shorter stay and a chance at another big payday down the line. It was a perfect scenario.
However, the Patriots didn't have the same idea in mind, leading Hall back to Washington.
"In my own contract discussions with the Pats, I recall Bill Belichick telling me they couldn't give me the contract Moss signed," Hall said. "Being a young and greedy knucklehead, I chose to stay in Washington on a long-term deal (six years, $54 million), which ultimately had me making the same per-year salary as Moss."
Signing with Washington may have given him a more secure future, but it didn't bring much playoff success. Hall would stay in Washington through the 2017 season and the team would only appear in the postseason twice, losing in the Wild Card both times.
If Hall had opted to work out a deal with the Patriots, him holding a Lombardi Trophy was not a sure bet. New England didn't win another Super Bowl until 2014, which would have been the sixth year of his deal he got in Washington.
Yet, 2009 marked the beginning of what has been 11 straight playoff appearances in New England. Hall was a talented cornerback, and a decision to join the Patriots could have helped the team reach the Super Bowl earlier, or earned him an opportunity to play out the rest of his seasons for the team of the decade and earn one -- if not multiple -- Super Bowls.
While signing with Washington in 2008 after being released by the Raiders was what he considers to be one of the best decisions he made, missing out on the Patriots is enough to make Hall label the 2009 decision as the biggest regret of his career.
"Over a few million, I could've changed my legacy by being part of that dynasty," Hall said. "That was on the table for me, and I wish I would've made the decision to take less money and play for Belichick."
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