By Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff
I have a friend who has persistently and relentlessly advocated to me the Patriots should pursue All-Pro Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth in a trade from the Redskins. His advocacy has been so loud and repeated, and with the Redskins seeming desire to give Haynesworth away, it has admittedly weakened me to a proposition I once rejected out of hand. I’ll admit, he at least convinced me to pause and ponder the possibility for a moment. Could Albert Haynesworth fit with the Patriots?
Haynesworth’s talent is undeniable. As great as Vince Wilfork is, he is just a notch below Haynesworth, who has been called the most dominant defensive tackle in the league. And athletically, for his position, he is as much a freak as Randy Moss is as a receiver. This is a 6’6″ 350 lb. man who ran a 4.82/40 and had a vertical jump of 39″ inches during his pre-draft workouts in 2002. At 350 lbs.!! And as my friend has pointed out, a Patriots team in a reconfigured 4-3 alignment with Wilfork and Haynesworth in the middle would be a nightmare for teams to attempt to run on up the middle. Nobody would even get to middle linebacker Jerod Mayo to block him and he’d clean up on tackles. The double teams would have to be so persistent, it would make life easier for the Patriots edge defenders, where undoubtedly they are a bit weaker and have more question marks. And even on passing downs, Haynesworth is a good inside pass rusher, an area of concern the Patriots have looked to shore up this off-season. Indeed Haynesworth has racked up 18.5 sacks the last 3 seasons, an excellent number for an inside rusher.
But what about that contract you say? The $100 million dollar, 7 year deal Haynesworth got last year is nearly legendary. A defensive tackle getting that? But on closer examination, its not quite as unworkable as it may first appear. For starters, the Redskins have already paid out $32 million of that money, which leaves a potential $68 million which could be paid over 6 years to a team trading for him (though its unlikely it would all ever be paid out). Is that all that more unreasonably more than the $40 million over 5 years Wilfork got when one considers Haynesworth is the next level up player (and capable of playing for 3 downs as opposed to the 2 Wilfork plays on)?
So, what then is the problem? Ship a third rounder to Washington for next year (the Patriots have two firsts and two seconds anyway) and be done with it, right? Not quite. Haynesworth does come with quite a bit of baggage. Lets start with the fact the Redskins have paid him $32 million freakin’ dollars the last calender year and he still has not shown up for voluntary workouts this year!!! Any workouts. He’s been practically invisible to his employer. Think about that, he can’t be unhappy with his contract, right? How could he be? So, what’s the problem? The coaching staff? Is that his problem?
Indeed, Haynesworth did have a problem with last year’s Redskins’ defensive coordinator, Greg Blache. After a December 21st 45-12 loss to the Giants at home last year, Haynesworth threw Blache under the bus to the media by declaring “could not survive another season in this system if it stays the way it is….” Apparently it wasn’t Haynesworth’s fault the Redskins couldn’t cause any turnovers and allowed the Giants to march into town and roll up nearly 400 yards offense and 45 points that day. Not the $100 million dollar guy’s fault at all, apparently. Blame the coach everyone knew was on his way out of town at that point anyways. Courageous of Albert, I must say.
Nevertheless, Haynesworth got his wish. In to town comes new coach Mike Shanahan with new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and his new system, a 3-4 defense to boot. Apparently Haynesworth is still unhappy with this as well and has put out word he in no uncertain terms wishes to play in a 3-4 base defense. Incidentally, the Patriots play a 3-4 base defense and any trade for Haynesworth would assuredly require a change to the 4-3, particularly with Vince Wilfork being one of your better players on defense. Haynesworth’s unhappiness no matter how much money he makes or what system he plays has led Patriots legend Tedy Bruschi to wonder aloud if Haynesworth really even likes football. And this is a guy who’ll be 29 before camp starts. He is no doubt dominant and you may want to make some concessions for a dominant guy, but not sure you want to be committed to someone for 6 more years who is about to hit his 30s and lacks passion for the sport.
Then there are the character issues. Haynesworth is a guy caused a stir by kicking his teammate Justin Hartwig in camp in 2003. The same guy who was suspended five games for viciously stomping on Andre Gurode’s head while he was on the ground during a game with the Cowboys in 2006. And the same guy who’s been brought up on criminal charges several times the past few years for various admittedly minor offenses. Do we really want someone here who has no beef with his contract, having been made the highest paid defensive player in history a year ago, who got a change in coaching staff he advocated for and whose teammates and owner are openly calling for to show up during a critical team-building portion of the off-season while a new coaching staff tries to install his system on the Patriots? And a player who’d require the Patriots to scrap their defensive plans just days before, or even possibly after depending on when any trade were made, their first mandatory mini-camp when the system is being installed and taught to new comers and vets alike?
The Patriots have reportedly recommitted to finding leaders, solid citizens, captains and players with a passion for football and for a chance to succeed this off-season. In a way, its a return to a philosophy that kicked off their run of Super Bowl victories to begin with. The youth they’ve mixed in over the last two years gives Patriots fans justifiable optimism this team is rebuilding and with a little luck can regain its dominance again with a new core of players (and a mixture of some of the old core). Adding a questionable, albeit dominant, 29 year old disgruntled Albert Haynesworth to the mix? Even at a song in terms of draft picks, I gotta say thanks but no thanks.
I love it when no one who’s ever coached football (I’m assuming said friend fits in that category) gives Belichick advice.
Reconfigured 4-3? Yeah right and and it’ll happen just as soon as we get a reconfigured constitution. There are very good reasons the Patriots play a base 3-4.
While being an immense talent, Haynesworth is a cancer. Great idea, let’s get rid of some malcontents and… bring in another one. That’s how you build a winning team, right?
Remember all those Superstars on the 2001 team? I’m pretty sure they won the entire shebang. As Pioli often says “you’re not acquiring talent, you’re building a team.” Sorry the argument especially doesn’t hold much to me while Haynesworth is going through a paternity suit…
While his talent certainly would be welcomed he’d probably have to go to the “Jerk Rehabilitation Center” Rothlisberger is attending before Belichick would likely want him on his team.
Did you even read the article? I reach the same conclusion. Not a good fit. Not worth it. A cancer. What exactly did you read? Or did you just read the headline before bloviating?
I’m guessing “just the headline”
Would Haynesworth be an option at DE in a 3-4? He is griping about playing NT, so we could leave Wilfork there, and have him play DE. We also know Wilfork could play DE.
Based on ability, it sounds like a great idea, I’m with you on the character thing, though
-If it’s a conversation about character, then Moss and Dillon would never have been Patriots. NO ONE ever dogged a season like Moss did in Oakland. I hated Moss for the way he spit in the face of the game in Oakland. If you talk about someone being a cancer, then there was just as good a reason to label Moss exactly the same.
-I don’t remember Haynesworth having any particular issues while playing for Jeff Fischer in Tennessee.
-Haynesworth would be a 2 year fit. His addition would make the Pats D championship calibre this year. No offensive line could handle him and Wilfork in the middle. With an exciting draft this year for the Pats and two 1’s and two 2’s next year, this acquisition gives the Pats space to breath (in a developmental sense)
Kudos Greg! Excellent article!
I agree Mike Dillon and Moss had issues and were brought in. But I think the team is in a very different spot right now. They’re rebuilding with young guys. When Moss had been brought in, they had the core of 3 Championships. And 2 when Dillon came here. While there are a few guys left, lets face it, we’re heading into the 6th season since the last Super Bowl win. There are a lot of young guys. The vast majority of the team AREN’T those teams. I just don’t think you add a personality like Haynesworths in right now.
Great points Mike – Even if Haynesworth isn’t a leader, could he be a non-disruptor? With 24 players added between the 2009 and 2010 drafts (8 in rounds 1/2), what are we really going to do with all those high picks next year? There’s only so much room/turnover the team can tolerate.
Haynesworth attitude is what worries me – if he can’t get out of bed for $100 million, what can he do? What’s his motivation at this point? If it’s to win a SB, then it’s the right move to make – if it’s to extract as much money as possible from teams, then the Pats aren’t the right spot. I feel players should know that, at this stage!
Oh, just an FYI, PFT reported on the remaining 3 years of the contract as follows:
3 years, $16 million. Not too shabby.
Of course, he’s probably going to want to re-negotiate his contract immediately, which is always a non-starter when it comes to the Patriots.
Agreed David the contract really isn’t too bad. And perhaps he could play 3-4 end. But it would take a whole lotta talking to him, a whole lot, to be reassured he’d want to play here. And I’m just not seeing it happening.