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As the 2015 season came to a close, veteran defensive end Jason Hatcher was contemplating whether or not it was time to hang up his cleats for good.
Fast forward a month and a half to the NFL Combine. On Wednesday, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden spoke to the media and took a variety of questions in regards to the state of his team. Hatcher was mentioned by name on more than one occasion.
Gruden gave hopeful news, saying that he bumped into Hatcher recently and while he does not have a definitive answer, Gruden gathered that he might be inclined to return for another season.
“Yeah, I talked to him,” Gruden said. “I just ran into him at a restaurant the other night, He’s had a chance to sit back and think about it. And he’s still in the process of thinking about it. I think he’s learning towards playing, I would guess right now. But we’ll have to wait and see. He’s put a lot of good years in. Body was a little bit beat up last year at the end of the year, but I think he’s starting to recover, feel a lot better so I think his mind will change a little bit as he gets closer to time to kick off.”
Gruden went on to add that a combination of the playoff loss and some nagging injuries probably influenced Hatcher publically addressing the retirement rumors, but that some time away from football to recharge the batteries is probably beneficial in his decision making process.
“I think he’s still on the fence a little bit,” Gruden said. “I think his body is feeling better. After the season, he was really beat up; no question about it. And I think the loss hurt a lot of people. I think he was probably ready to hang it up. But, I think once the body starts feeling better the juices start flowing, the combine gets going and you start feeling better. We’ll have those discussions later.”
After completing his 10th NFL season and 2nd with the Redskins, Hatcher felt a bit deflated after the Wild Card loss to the Green Bay Packers, sparking conversation by saying post-game that he wasn’t positive if he was going to return to football.
“I’ve been thinking lately about this being my last year, retiring,” said Hatcher. “It’s one thing I’ve got to pray about, but [general manager Scot McCloughan] said he wants me around. I still love the game, but like I said, I have to pray and see what my family says about it. [Scot’s] a great guy, I’m glad I met him. He believes in me as a leader and as a player, and it’s hard to not come back. But at the same time, I have to do what’s best for me and the family.”
Since he made those comments in mid-January, Hatcher has been spending lots of time with his family, and he’s been making waves by working out in his wife’s Pilates studio in Texas. He has proudly taken to Instagram to not only show support for his wife, but perhaps also to show fans that he is staying limber during the offseason.
While there is no definitive answer about Hatcher’s return, fans should remain optimistic that there is a possibility that he will be in burgundy and gold for one more season.
“I definitely think I have another one in the tank. I just have to go this off season, and if I do decide to come back, go and train with my trainer and stay there until it’s time for me to report back," he said. "My body feels great right now. I don’t feel too banged up. I’ve got some nicks here and there, but for the most part, I definitely have another year in me.”