Patriots lay their bets on Haynesworth

There’s the potential that the Patriots’ acquisition of defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth will be the most significant of the upcoming 2011 NFL season.

There’s also the potential for this:

Regardless, it’s a low-risk-high-risk-low-reward-high-reward move for Bill Belichick. Got that? The Patriots only surrendered a 2013, fifth-round draft pick to acquire the Washington malcontent, who was among the elite at his position during his time with Tennessee. If they get that guy, and he’s willing to surrender to  – everybody now – the Patriot way, he’s going to be a huge defensive presence up front for the Patriots.

Of course, they could also get this guy:

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Haynesworth, of course, famously signed a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Redskins in 2009 and turned out to be a bust in Washington, where he and head coach Mike Shanahan got along about as well as Ted Washington and a size 34. As far as the Patriots are concerned financially, the Globe’s Greg Bedard reports, “It’s essentially a four-year, $48-million contract because his base salary goes to $29 million in ’13. Haynesworth, if he wasn’t asked to restructure his contract, is due $5.4 million in base salary this season (plus a $1 million workout bonus) and $7.2 million next year.”

Clearly Belichick thinks he can get through to the 30-year-old and insert him on a defensive line that already includes Vince Wilfork and a presumably healthy Ty Warren and could have just have transformed his defense into one of the most feared in the NFL. The New York Times Judy Batista tweeted this morning, “Have to wonder if Detroit’s Jim Schwartz, who had Haynesworth when he was DC in Tenn., gave his buddy Belichick a positive report.”

And that’s the thing. In instances like this, Belichick more often than not knows what he’s bringing on. Corey Dillon. Randy Moss. But this…this is the Great Wall of China of attitude reclamation projects, no matter how ecstatic Haynesworth has to be to get out of D.C.

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The Patriots’ pass rush just – finally – got a whole lot better, presuming Haynesworth wants to contribute. The locker room is a whole other story. He’s still due in court for misdemeanor sexual abuse on Aug. 23. His conditioning trials have become a league-wide laughing matter. The Redskins suspended him for the remainder of the season last December for “conduct detrimental to the team.” He’s constantly in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Still, if there’s the potential for this:

Or this…

Then, watch out.