The immediate reaction to Jason Hatcher signing with the Washing Redskins may be one of frustration and anger. The Dallas Cowboys already lost a legendary defensive lineman in DeMarcus Ware and now they have lost last season’s sack leader to a division rival. Give it a little time and everyone will realize that Hatcher signing with the Redskins is an ideal situation for the Cowboys.
The first reason is that, even though Hatcher is coming off of a Pro Bowl season, he is being unbelievably overpaid. Even if the Cowboys had any significant cap space there is absolutely no way he deserves a four-year $27 million contract. The most obvious reason for this is that Hatcher is 32 years old. This is an NFL where it’s becoming harder and harder for players above the age of 30 to play at a high level. Hatcher is coming off of the best season of his career and there is a legitimate chance he can have one more productive season. Unfortunately, players do not tend to get better with age and even if Hatcher had a $6-7 million season last year he will most definitely not have that kind of season, even two years from now.
The other reason Hatcher is being overpaid is that it’s not as if he’s been a landmark defensive lineman his entire career. Last season was the first time he eclipsed five sacks and for that reason there’s a good chance last season was an anomaly and he will return to the average production he brought for the most part of his career.
Even though not re-signing Hatcher was a good thing for the Cowboys it is almost always infuriating when a player goes over to a division foe. In this case it is actually better than him signing outside the division. Of course there’s the chance that Hatcher breaks out, dominates for the Redskins and makes the Cowboys regret their decision in letting him go. Fortunately the chances of that happening are not very good.
The two biggest changes that lead to Hatcher break out season was the switch to a 4-3 defense and the presence of Rod Marinelli. With the Redskins he has neither of those. Hatcher will be forced to return to a 3-4 defense where he was never able to reach five sacks and will be missing the guidance of one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL. Hatcher’s situation with the Redskins has only one perk and that is the money. Aside from that he’s set up to have a disappointing season which will justify the Cowboys’ decision to let him go.
Throw into the mix that the Cowboys’ offensive line is one of their strongest units and the Cowboys will have two opportunities a year to shut down Hatcher, once again justifying their decision to let him go.
Hatcher had a breakout season last year and the Redskins are paying him based solely on that year. Hatcher’s motivation was clearly money and for the reason he made the right decision in going to the Redskins. However, anyone who is expecting Hatcher to remain a dominant defensive tackle should reevaluate their expectations.