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Jason Hatcher: Redskins ‘blew the doors off me’

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Jason Hatcher was winding down his visit with the Oakland Raiders on Thursday afternoon when his agent called with a contract offer from the Washington Redskins. Though Hatcher was set to fly to Northern Virginia for a meeting with the Redskins on Friday, he knew he had to jump on the opportunity.

"They kind of blew the doors off me," Hatcher said Friday afternoon in a conference call with reporters. "They were in the price range I was looking for, and it wasn't all about the money at the end of the day. It was just about the fire those guys had for me as a player and the respect that they had. Those guys know that I can bring something to the table in this organization and help this team win, so that played a role in helping me make my decision."

Hatcher, who spent his first eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, signed a four-year, $27.5 million contract with the Redskins on Friday — one that reportedly includes a $9 million signing bonus and $10.5 million guaranteed.

It was the team's most significant investment since the free agent signing period began on Tuesday, and it will help address an area of the defense that sagged in 2013.

"It was a painful process to sit behind guys for five years, but you know, it makes sense to me now," said Hatcher, who didn't become a starter until midway through the 2011 season. "I'm 31, I'm at my prime and my future is in a great organization, and I'm looking forward to a great opportunity to go out here and win a Super Bowl."

The 6-foot-6, 299-pound Hatcher spent his first seven seasons as a three-technique end in a 3-4 defensive scheme, but experienced a career renaissance in 2013 when the Cowboys shifted to a 4-3 front.

His 11 sacks were the most of any defensive tackle in the league, and he consistently showed an ability to generate pressure from the inside and collapse the pocket. He had six tackles, including two sacks, and forced a fumble in the Cowboys' 31-16 victory over the Redskins in Week 6, then had two tackles when the teams met again in Week 16.

A third-round pick out of Grambling State in 2006, Hatcher was a restricted free agent following the 2010 season and signed a three-year, $6 million contract to stay with the Cowboys in Aug. 2011.

He visited the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday and was reportedly set to visit the Tennessee Titans on Saturday. Despite his success, he wasn't specifically trying to find a team with a similar defensive scheme, and the Redskins made their pitch with the intention of moving him all around the field.

"I'm gonna move around a lot, so you'll see me all over the field like I did a couple years ago in Rob Ryan's scheme," Hatcher said. "I played the nose and I played end, right end, tackle, so I'm excited. They're going to use me to my strengths, like I've said, which is to just get upfield and disrupt."

Quarterback Robert Griffin III and cornerback DeAngelo Hall were among the Redskins players who reached out to recruit Hatcher as it became clear in recent weeks he would not be returning to the Cowboys.

That helped make him feel welcome — and, considering the history between the two teams, gave him a measure of comfort.

"I just want to get back to that smash-mouth football, you know?" Hatcher said. "It's a rivalry with us and the Cowboys, and it's going to be a very exciting day when I can go down there and play the Cowboys. I'm looking forward to it, so that's one of the main reasons [to sign with the Redskins] — just to get in this rivalry and stay in it. I love it here. If you come out and win that Super Bowl, you've earned it, man. It's one of the hardest divisions in football."

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