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NFL free agency 2014: Why Alex Hall could be the Panthers most fascinating signing

A rangy defensive end from the land up north. Alex Hall will be fascinating to watch.

They dress up like beer at CFL games, because of course they do.
They dress up like beer at CFL games, because of course they do.
Jeff Gross

The Carolina Panthers added some pass rush depth on Friday with the announcement they signed defensive end Alex Hall, formerly of the CFL.

Hall began his professional career in the NFL, a seventh round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2008. He bounced between several teams with unremarkable results, leaving the league with 38 tackles and 3.0 sacks in three seasons.

Then the light bulb came on.

Playing in Canada was the perfect alternate route for the former DII defensive end and he quickly became one of the best pass rushers in the league. In 2013 he led the CFL in sacks for much of the year, before finally settling into second place with a total of 16.0. Hall was also instrumental in the Saskatchewan Roughriders' Grey Cup victory last year.

Measured expectations are key here. Yes, Hall's sack numbers were gaudy -- but he's very small for an NFL defensive end at 250 pounds, especially on a long 6'5 frame. What make's Hall's signing interesting isn't his potential, but rather the litmus test for Dave Gettleman's talent evaluation.

This isn't taking a flier on a guy who had some NFL success or who others think is past his prime, he's a player numerous teams decided wasn't an NFL caliber player, including the New York Giants in 2010 -- while Gettleman was a scout there.

If the move pays off it's more than a reclamation project, it creates a career. If not, then it's a zero sum gain. That said, it will be interesting in training camp to see him up close against NFL caliber players and see if those flashes from the CFL can translate. If they can it will be Gettleman's greatest accomplishment since arriving in Carolina.