Q: How would you describe the free agency process for you and what is your reaction to the end result of signing back with the Patriots?
DH: The free agency process, it was a good process. You got to go out there, you got to be a free agent, you got to see where people value your skills at, what you put on tape for the first four years of your career. I would say in the end, I mean coming back to New England – that's ultimately what I wanted to do. I love it here. I've built a lot of relationships here with people outside of football. My kids go to school here and just being a part of this organization – it means a lot to me. I really love playing for this organization. I love playing for Coach [Bill] Belichick. I love being a part of Mr. [Robert] Kraft's team. In the end, just coming back here really wasn't a hard decision. It was something that I ultimately wanted to do.
Q: What are your thoughts on how the secondary is shaping up this offseason? There seems to be a lot of turnover each year within that position group.
DH: Well, there's turnover every year. Like you said, there's a lot of turnover, especially in the defensive backfield but it's something that in all reality we're kind of used to. How good we will be will not be determined right now. Nothing really matters right now. All we can really do is just wait to get to work, and then we've got to build what we want to be this year. Last year is last year. Like you said, there are new faces in the secondary and some people might be there and might not be there, but ultimately we know what we have to do to try to be a good secondary or good defense. We've just got to work towards that.
Q: You seemed to be used more in nickel situations last season. How enjoyable of an experience was that for you to have an increased role throughout the year?
DH: It was definitely enjoyable. I mean that's one of the reasons why I wanted to come back. They know how to use me. They know how to really get the best out of me and I want to continue to grow being a part of this defense. Just being able to play more, being in more situations, being out there more, being relied on more is something that I really prided myself in last year to just let me know that I was becoming a better football player that Coach [Bill] Belichick and Matty P [Matt Patricia] would put me out there a lot more.
Q: How much of a factor was your close relationship with Devin McCourty in your decision to return to New England, and secondly, how hard are you rooting for Malcolm Butler to return?
DH: Well, the first part of your question – I would say just talking to Dev [Devin McCourty] throughout the whole process, he always told me to do what's best for me, and I think this whole situation, just assessing it like you said, being a free agent, I just really feel like this was the best situation for me. I wouldn't say he had as much of a factor on it, or a big factor. I love playing with Dev. I've learned so much from him. He's literally like a big brother to me. He's really helped me progress my game, but I think this decision was based solely just on me just thinking I could come back here, continue to grow as a player and try and help this team win some football games. As far as Malcolm [Butler] man, I love Malcolm. I love being his teammate, what he brings to the football field, what he brings to the locker room. I would love being his teammate but, you know, this is a business more than anything. I know that people have got to do what's best for them, so I'm just rooting on him that he gets to do whatever he feels is best for him.
Q: A lot of your teammates said that you were the beacon of hope at halftime of the Super Bowl. What led you to have that confidence?
DH: I just remember just, more just – I wouldn't say it was like a – a lot of people say a pep talk; I wouldn't really say it was a pep talk. It was just me just talking out loud, just kind of how I felt about this team. It was just me basically saying that I knew we had a great team and we were capable of doing great things, and I really believed that we were going to make the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. It was just – you could feel it. People believed it and it was like everybody was getting it and giving positive energy. I really believe that it just started going throughout the team, and I think that it's one thing that just helped us get going just a little bit.
Q: What was it like for you going through the free agency process at the same time as Logan Ryan, and what will it be like for you not to be in the same locker room as him for the first time in a long time?
DH: We definitely kept in contact the whole time. He was telling me who was interested, some offers. We have a group chat, me, Dev [Devin McCourty], Log [Logan Ryan] and Tavon Wilson, so we were all just kind of going back and forth, just sharing our experiences, what we were thinking, what places liked who, and it was cool to go through that with him. I've been through a lot of situations with him – coming into college, being a freshman in college, going through the Draft together. We really shared a lot of special moments together and that's why he's one of my best friends. It's definitely going to be tough not having him around. We've been together literally for eight years and he's someone that I've really grown close to, but he had to make the best decision for his family. I know he's going to do well down there and I'm really excited to see what he has in store for this season.
Q: Is there a certain part of your game you'd like to work on improving this offseason?
DH: Just continuing to build and to try to be a more complete player, I would say. I think, I would say the run area is a key [area] where I feel that I can grow in. My tackling could be a little bit more aggressive and I think that's going to come with putting on a little bit more weight, being able to bang down there. So I think that area is key, and could be an area I could grow a lot in, I believe so.
*Q: Do you want to put on a little weight? *
DH: Yeah, like I said, I will maybe try to put on a few pounds just to see how it is. I'll try it out maybe in OTAs and minicamp and just see how I feel, and how I like moving around a little heavier; maybe like 207, 208.
Q: How will you try to bring along someone like Stephon Gilmore who will be brand new to your secondary where communication is so important?
DH: We've got to put the work in. We've got to come on the practice field; we've got to work hard on the practice field and in the classroom. If we've got to stay after, we have to stay after. You know how much we like to win around here and communication is very key to how we play good defense. It probably will always be that way, so we've got to make sure the communication is up to par, and it's going to be on us to make sure everybody is communicating and communicating the right stuff.