The Patriots made their bold move.
The team is in the process of acquiring defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth from the Washington Redskins, Patriots coach Bill Belichick confirmed this morning.
Belichick provided no further comment.
The trade was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Patriots sent a 2013 fifth-round pick to the Redskins. The trade is contingent on Haynesworth passing his physical, which has been a bit of an issue in the past.
Well, this will certainly liven up camp.
There is no question that when the 6-5 1/2, 320-pound Haynesworth is right, he’s terrific and the best defensive lineman in football. Double teams can barely contain him as he can rush the passer and defend the run.
But he hasn’t been right since getting paid by the Redskins in 2009 to the tune of $115 million over seven years. It’s essentially a four-year, $48-million contract because his base salary goes to $29 million in ’13.
Hayesworth, 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.
The money is why this is Belichick’s biggest reclamation project.
When Randy Moss went to New England, he needed to remake himself to get paid down the line (still hasn’t happened). Running back Corey Dillon, however, was making a nice chunk of change 3.3 million for 2004 and $3.85 million for ’05.
But Dillon at least liked to play. People aren’t sure of that with Haynesworth. Let’s not forget that Haynesworth faces an Aug. 23 trial for misdemeanor sexual assault.
On the field, Haynesworth was suspended for the final month of the season by the Redskins. At the time he said he couldn’t play for in the Redskins’ 3-4 scheme any longer. The Patriots play a lot of four-man fronts, but he’s still going to have to play the 3-4. That being said, no one is better in the league at fitting his scheme to his players than Belichick.
Belichick didn’t have much to say at his morning press conference on the first day of training camp.
“I talked to (Redskins coach) Mike Shanahan last night and we are in the acquiring process with Haynesworth, but that’s not complete yet, so I really can’t comment on that at this point until it’s completed, if it is completed. We’ll see how all that goes,” he said in his opening statement.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett (a former head coach himself) couldn’t get Haynesworth to do anything. Of course, Shanahan tried to jam it down Haynesworth’s throat.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a player just tell me he didn’t want to play “Okie” defense [the base 3-4] and then later say he didn’t want to play nickel versus the run, ‘Just play me on third downs,'” Haslett said. “No, I’ve never had that before. And we tried to accommodate him. It’s a shame because he’s athletic enough. He can do almost anything he wants. Obviously, he didn’t want to do it. Good athletes can do a lot of different things. Basketball players — guards can play forwards, they can play different positions. I watch throughout the league, I see wide receivers do the ‘Wildcat.’ I think to myself, ‘If you’re a good enough athlete, you can do almost anything you want. You’ve just got to want to do it.'”
Haslett continued in on Haynesworth.
“You always want to use good players, but they’ve got to be willing to do what you want them to do,” Haslett said. “Obviously, if the guy’s not willing to do what you want them to do and you’re the head coach, and the guy doesn’t practice well on Thursday — about as poor as I’ve ever seen — and then Friday, a so-called illness that he doesn’t practice. Then, if I’m the head coach on Saturday, getting ready for Sunday, you’ve got to make a decision: What’s best for the football club?
“I think Mike made the right decision to make him inactive, based off what he saw. We know over the years, based off what we saw last year in film, when he doesn’t practice well or he doesn’t show up for Christmas — or whatever the situation is — then he doesn’t play well.”
Like the drafting of QB Ryan Mallett, this is another move most teams couldn’t afford to make because they would run the risk of a Haynesworth blowup derailing the season. Patriots don’t have to worry about that.