Rams Acquire DE Hall from Detroit
Friday, March 2, 2007

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

With the number of quality defensive ends available at a low because of franchise tags and re-signings, the Rams moved in the free agent market to bolster their defensive line Friday.

On the opening day of free agency, St. Louis dealt a fifth round pick to Detroit for defensive end James Hall. The addition of Hall immediately helps address one of the team’s greatest positions of need.

The Rams made it clear that finding some pass rush help opposite end Leonard Little was one of their top priorities and they wasted no time addressing it.

“It makes all the sense in the world,” coach Scott Linehan said. “The free agent pool is not real deep, especially at that position. It is hard to find guys for that.”

Hall was due a roster bonus at 4 p.m. today, a bonus the Lions preferred not to pay. It is believed that the Rams will pick up that bonus as part of the deal. The Rams have some familiarity with Hall in the form of defensive line coach Brian Baker.

Baker coached Hall as a rookie in Detroit when he held the same position for the Lions in 2000. Hall made an impression on Baker then and on Linehan in 2004 when Linehan was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings.

“Where I remember him most – he played good against us this year when we played them – but he had four sacks in two games against us in 04 when I was at Minnesota,” Linehan said. “We voted for him for the Pro Bowl that year.”

Hall has been in the league for seven seasons after signing with the Lions as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan in 2000. For his career, Hall has racked up 32.5 sacks, 336 tackles and nine forced fumbles.

When Hall started in the NFL, he was a bit undersized after playing rush linebacker for the Wolverines. But, much like Little, added weight and became strong enough to be a three-down defensive end.

Hall’s breakthrough season came in 2004 when he posted 11.5 sacks and 48 tackles while starting every game.

Linehan said he expects Hall to come in and have a great shot to be the starting right defensive end upon his arrival.

“He’s an every down end,” Linehan said. “He can anchor. He can play the run. He played it very well against us last year. He had an injury this year and he was a pretty good fit for what we were looking for. We were trying to solve that.”

Last season, Hall started seven games and had 34 tackles and five sacks. He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 6 against Buffalo for his three-sack performance. He was placed on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury on Nov. 10, ending his season.

Hall had surgery on the shoulder soon after and is in the process of rehabilitating. Linehan said Hall will likely be limited in the offseason work, but should be ready to go in time for training camp.

The Rams had two fifth-round choices in this year’s draft after acquiring one from Buffalo for end Anthony Hargrove last season. The pick going to Detroit is believed to be the team’s original fifth-round choice, meaning the only fifth-rounder the team has is the one received from the Bills.

Considering how shallow the free agent pool is this year, particularly at end, Linehan said it was important to get the deal done to keep from entering a bidding war for Hall’s services.

“Who knows?” Linehan asked. “There was absolutely no guarantee if he gets out and becomes a free agent.”

The addition of Hall helps solidify the end position, but doesn’t mean the Rams are done in their search for pass rush help. But, if the team does look for more help at the spot, it is likely to come through the draft.