Surprising absolutely no one, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released Albert Haynesworth on Wednesday afternoon. The move saves the Bucs $7.2 million in salary cap money, and as a bonus, Albert Haynesworth is no longer on their roster.
I don't know if Haynesworth will get another shot anywhere else. Defensive tackle is one of those positions where there always seems to be a shortage of bodies, so that works in his favor. But at the same time, it's really hard to imagine an NFL general manager thinking, "You know, I really think Albert Haynesworth can help us."
If this is the end for Haynesworth, he might be remembered as the worst disaster in Washington Redskins free-agent history ‒ no small feat ‒ and also as the guy who finally convinced the Redskins to stop giving stupid amounts of money to aging veterans.
I guess that does count as a contribution to the game of football. It's not the one Albert should've made, though.
It's hard to remember, but once upon a time, Big Al was the most dominant player in the league. With the Titans, he just wrecked offenses from the defensive tackle position. He was a monster against the run, and consistently caved in the pocket against drop-back passers. In 2008, Haynesworth was an All-Pro, Pro Bowler, and the Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year. In 2009, Haynesworth's peers voted him as the league's most dominant defender, ahead of guys like Ray Lewis, James Harrison and Ed Reed.
Then he signed as a free agent with the Redskins, and things took a turn. He didn't want to play in their defensive scheme, he was accused of being lazy, he missed practices, and about a million other things. He and head coach Mike Shanahan did everything short of wrap their fists in double-sided tape, roll them through broken glass and fight to the death.
Before the 2011 season, the Redskins traded Haynesworth to the New England Patriots in exchange for a used chinstrap autographed by Laurence Maroney. If anyone could get Albert turned back around, it would've been Bill Belichick, the malcontent whisperer, but that wasn't happening, either. The Pats cut him in early November.
The Bucs signed him to provide depth after a load of injuries on their defensive line. He played and managed to not implode the entire team (by that point, the Bucs had done that pretty well on their own), and that was it.
Big Al. Once on a path headed toward the Hall of Fame … now remembered largely as this.