Washington adds former first-round pick to reserve/future contracts list

The Washington Football Team has been stuck in neutral after a chaotic start to the offseason that saw them sign left tackle Charles Leno to a three-year, $37.5 million extension after he exceeded expectations on a prove-it deal.

Of course, it’s not a bad thing Washington isn’t putting the pedal to the metal. In many ways, the Leno extension was deceiving. After all, negotiations aren’t supposed to move as quickly as they did with the 2018 Pro Bowler.

While it’s expected that Washington is keen on extending Terry McLaurin and re-signing free agents JD McKissic and Bobby McCain, an agreement isn’t going to be reached overnight, especially in McLaurin’s case.

In the meantime, though, Washington has been busy formulating their roster for OTAs, mandatory minicamp and training camp. Last week, they signed a host of players, including some familiar faces, to reserve/future contracts.

That trend continued this week when they added veteran corner DJ Hayden to the reserve/futures group.

The Washington Football Team signed veteran cornerback DJ Hayden to a reserve/future contract.

If Hayden’s name rings a bell, that’s probably because he was a first-round pick of the then-Oakland Raiders back in 2013. He was also a late-season addition to Washington’s practice squad when starting cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III landed on the COVID list amid the team’s breakout.

Hayden hasn’t played consistent football since 2019 in Jacksonville, when he appeared in 15 games while making eight starts. He did a little bit of everything for the Jaguars that season, racking up 41 tackles (five for loss), two sacks, five QB hits and six passes defended while allowing a 61% completion rate.

On top of experience, Hayden also brings a ton of versatility to the table. Of his 4,133 career coverage snaps, 1,972 have come in the slot and 1,841 have come on the perimeter. He’s also lined up in the box on 279 occasions, as well as a free safety for 21 snaps and a defensive lineman for 20 snaps.

So why was Hayden out of the league for nearly all of 2021? Well, it’s possible he was looking for more money than teams’ could afford for a backup coming out of the pandemic, when the NFL was forced to lower the cap.

Hayden also struggled with injuries in 2020, his final season with the Jags. He suffered a hamstring injury four games in and was shelved for six weeks. He re-injured the hammy upon returning and landed on injured reserve for the second time, which ended his season.

Assuming Hayden is fully-healthy after almost a full year out of the league, this signing has the potential to be a sneaky-good move. If he’s able to rediscover that 2019 form, he’ll have a shot at making the 53-man roster in training camp depending on how Washington addresses the CB position this offseason.

That’s all you can ask for a player on a reserve/futures deal.