Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com reports that former Cincinnati Bengals and free agent cornerback Leon Hall began a visit with the Atlanta Falcons last night on the heels of a Tuesday visit with the New York Giants. Hall potentially adds much-needed depth in the Falcons secondary, following the four-game suspension of third cornerback Jalen Collins.
Hall, 31, has spent the past nine seasons with the Bengals, who drafted him in the first round out of Michigan in 2007. Over that span, Hall has been a fixture in Cincinnati’s secondary, starting 105 games and collecting 26 interceptions, which are the fourth most in Bengals team history.
Hall’s recent history has been marred by injury however, suffering Achilles tendon tears in 2011 and 2013. After not missing a game in his first four years with the Bengals, Hall has missed a combined 23 due to various injuries over the past five seasons.
Reports indicate that Hall’s market in free agency has been slowed by offseason back surgery. Per the New York Post, Hall’s visit to the Giants was labeled as a “fact-finding mission” to determine how far along he is in his recovery from that surgery. It is likely that the Falcons are in the same boat. Hall has also been on the Miami Dolphins’ radar this offseason, but according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the two sides couldn’t come to an accord due to Hall’s asking price being too high.
The past few years Hall has been relegated to a slot corner for the Bengals thanks in part to wear and tear making him less than a full-time player. He is coming off the first season in which he was not a full-time starter, having started four games while appearing in 14. He recorded two interceptions last season, including a pick-six, and also had nine pass breakups.
Right now, Robert Alford is the Falcons’ lone cornerback with extensive experience in the slot, playing there for much of last year in nickel situations. Hall has a comparable frame to Alford, being listed at 5’11” and 195 pounds and should be well-versed in the zone concepts that the Falcons employ often in their secondary.
Should the Falcons add Hall at some point later this offseason, he’ll likely be immediately slotted into the nickel cornerback spot. That should allow Alford to remain outside in nickel situations and give the team a steady, veteran presence off the bench in case Collins’ return from suspension doesn’t result in strong play.