On an evening where 37 players were cut, why did the Eagles trade for Deiondre Hall?

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After the roster cut frenzy had come to a close on Saturday evening, Howie Roseman had one more trick up his sleeve. In the midst of a press conference, the Eagles General Manager seemed to receive a text, confirming that a trade for Chicago’s Deiondre Hall would go ahead. Smiling, Roseman moved on, but the move did indeed happen.

The Eagles sent a conditional 2019 7th round pick in exchange for the services of the defensive back, but what does Hall bring to the table and why would the Eagles make a trade so late into the offseason?

Well, the Elephant in the room is that he doesn’t count toward the 53-man total, for now. Hall is suspended for the first game of the season after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. This means that the Eagles can carry an extra man into the matchup and not have to make a corresponding roster move until after the conclusion of the game.

At 6’2, 206 lbs, Hall looks the part of a modern day defensive back. What’s even more interesting (and almost expected at this point), is that the former 4th round pick has a connection to the Eagles front office.

“Joe Douglas was with Chicago when they drafted him in 2016.” Howie Roseman told reporters on Saturday. “He’s a safety who has a corner background as well. Had a chance to get exposure to him in the preseason and his tape.”

He’s a safety who has also racked up 19 tackles this preseason, second to only John Timu in team total tackles. Not only that, but he showed plenty of promise during his time on the field in the regular season. As a rookie, Hall made 9 tackles, 1 interception and 3 pass defenses in 8 appearances. The struggles for Hall were unfortunately injury and character based, after missing 14 games due to a hamstring injury. Hall was also tased by Police a few years back for an off-the-field incident.

However, the Eagles have been known to give second chances and they’d be right too. If anyone knows the ceiling that the 24-year old has, it’s Joe Douglas…and there’s obviously a reason he’s been acquired.

It begins and ends with the team’s 4th safety position. That may not sound too important, but losing Jaylen Watkins to free agency stung the Philadelphia defense this offseason. Playing in 16% of defensive snaps, the presence of Watkins gave the Eagles flexibility to move Malcolm Jenkins around freely, without compromising coverage over the top. While Tre Sullivan has developed nicely under-the-radar, the development in Watkins was inherently clear.

 

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In the space of three short seasons he went from a cornerback who was a liability in the open field, to making big plays against Larry Fitzgerald and eventually transitioning to Safety to not only save his career and get him out of a cornerback competition he wasn’t going to win, but rejuvenate it completely. Watkins’ worries in the open field were minimized, his tackling became a consistent strong point and he always had that cornerback flair.

Sullivan didn’t really do anything to ‘win’ that role and if it wasn’t for the signing of Corey Graham, the stakes would be even higher. It’s likely that the Northern Iowa product will compete head-on with Sullivan, providing a versatile skillset similar to that which they lost earlier this year.

Jim Schwartz loves optionality and both Hall and his 34 3/8 inch arms have it in abundance. Ferocious at the point attack, Hall has the right mindset, build and skillset to be a force in this defense. Of course, he’s going to have to pick up the scheme and get his head buried in the playbook for quite some time, but make no mistake, the Eagles aren’t just throwing trades around willy-nilly.

He may be unproven, but Hall could finally replace what the team lost in Watkins, as well as giving them some developmental upside to groom in the background. Nobody is coming for Sullivan’s job, yet, but this should act as a stark warning that unless he himself takes a big leap forward, there’s someone waiting in the wings ready to leap over him.

 

Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

 

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