After two years, tens of millions of dollars, several failed conditioning tests, one horrible example of on-field planking, and a career that has gone very far south, former Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will get a great opportunity he really doesn't deserve. The Redskins have agreed to trade Haynesworth to the New England Patriots for a fifth-round pick in 2013, taking Haynesworth to a team in which he could be the factor that pushes the team over the top — if he cares to do so.
Since he signed a seven-year, $100 million deal with the Redskins in February of 2009, Haynesworth has been about as big an embarrassment as he could be, especially when defensive coordinator Jim Haslett replaced Greg Blache before the 2010 season. Haynesworth had no interest in playing in Haslett's 3-4 scheme, failed multiple conditioning tests monitored by head coach Mike Shanahan before the season began, and put up pathetic stats far below his station.
Recent reports that the Redskins would have given Haynesworth away "for a ham sandwich" turned out to be true, and the Patriots could very well be the beneficiaries of another situation like the one they leveraged when they gave up a fourth-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Randy Moss in 2007. Moss was beyond unhappy in Oakland's sub-par offense, came to the Patriots, and helped Tom Brady, et al put up one of the best offenses of all time.
From a contract perspective, the Pats are on the hook for just $5.4 million — if even that much. They could always insist on restructuring the deal to knock down the guarantees. The Redskins have already paid the guaranteed majority of his contract, and they did that in 2010, when Haynesworth got a $21 million guaranteed option bonus. His base salary is guaranteed this season per the terms of the former contract, but under the "cash-to-cap" provisions of the new collective bargaining agreement, it's still a reasonable investment. In addition, former Tennessee Titans executive Floyd Reese, who was part of the brain trust that selected Haynesworth in the first round of the 2002 draft, is now Belichick's senior football advisor.
The Patriots are said to play the same kind of 3-4 defense that Haynesworth didn't want to play last season, but that's a bit of a misnomer. Haslett wanted Haynesworth to play nose tackle and soak up blockers so that other linemen could make plays, but Vince Wilfork plays the nose tackle position in Foxboro. The Pats actually play multiple hybrid fronts, and as ESPN's Mike Reiss pointed out, they actually lined up in sub packages more than 50 percent of the time in 2010. Haslett wound up running a lot of four-man fronts by default, because his highest-priced player refused to live up to his contract.
Haynesworth will now be coming into a situation in which he's very aware of the defenses played. That was ostensibly his problem in D.C. — that the scheme changed without his approval. As was the case with Moss, this is Haynesworth's last chance — we're going to find out if he cares about the game anymore at all.
Oh, and for the Redskins? They're looking to recoup all that Haynesworth money any way they can …but it will take a lot of $9.95 replica jerseys to do so.