May 17, 2010
The Washington Redskins gave Albert Haynesworth(notes) a seven-year, $100 million contract with $41 million guaranteed before the 2009 season, and they probably assumed that they were paying enough to have Haynesworth play in whatever defensive scheme the team wanted without argument. Not so, of course. When Mike Shanahan hired defensive coordinator Jim Haslett in the offseason, and Haslett started installing his preferred 3-4 defense, Haynesworth balked, knowing that the move from the 4-3 would affect his stats. Defensive tackles in a 4-3 are able to attack more often because there are more people in the base formation. In a 3-4, Haynesworth's job will be to hold the point for other people, and that's true whether he plays the nose tackle or jumps out to an end position. Now, he would not be the focus -- he'd be tying up blockers for Brian Orakpo(notes) and Andre Carter(notes).
The Redskins knew full well that Haynesworth was unhappy, and paid his $21 million option bonus in April without incident -- surely they were hoping that it would all blow over. It hasn't. Haynesworth has skipped all of the Redskins' minicamps and OTAs, choosing instead to work out near his Nashville home. "I'm disappointed he's not here. Absolutely," team owner Dan Snyder told the Washington Post last week. "We're expecting our players to lead by example, and we're expecting our players to understand that they're Redskins and they need to be here."
The Redskins have made moves to augment a 3-4 line -- they traded for Rams defender Adam Carriker(notes), the former Nebraska standout who was always out of place in St. Louis' base 4-3. At 6-6 and 300 pounds, Carriker has the perfect technique and body style to project as a 34 end. And Monday, it was announced that the team came to terms with veteran Vonnie Holiday. The 34-year-old was one of the NFL's more productive 3-4 ends last season, racking up five sacks for the Denver Broncos at a position where quarterback takedowns aren't all that common. The Carriker and Holliday moves would seem to trap Haynesworth inside, exactly where he doesn't want to be.
But according to SI.com's Ross Tucker, the Holliday acquisition indicated that Haynesworth is on the outs, and that trade talks with the Minnesota Vikings are still in play. It makes sense in many ways -- the Vikings run the 4-3 that Haynesworth prefers, the Redskins have already paid so much of the contract, and the Redskins may think that it's worth it to be rid of the disruptive influence from a declining player. Not to mention the fact that tackles Kevin and Pat Williams(notes) will start the season on the bench if they are required to serve four-game suspensions as a result of their roles in the StarCaps case. Don't be surprised if the Redskins go forward without the biggest (and perhaps most regrettable) free-agent signing in team history.
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