Albert Haynesworth and the future decline of the Washington Redskins

The first NFL team I ever truly became a fan of was the Washington Redskins (sorry).

During the three years I lived in D.C., the Redskins went to the Superbowl twice, winning one of them. You know the era: Gibbs, Theisman, Riggins, The Hogs. I stayed a fan until the Houston Oilers moved to Nashville and became the Titans and then, well, the rest is well known to anyone who has read this blog over the years (especially back before I moved most of my sports posts over to RexHammock.com).

Today, The Redskins will formally announce that Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will join the Redskins. It will be reported that the seven-year contract with be worth more than $100 million, making Haynesworth the highest paid NFL defensive player in history. When it comes to sports contracts, however, the “hype” figure of a contract is less important than the “guaranteed” amount the player receives, in this case, the Tennessean is reporting that number is rumored to be $41 million.

No matter what the real number is, Albert Haynesworth is a very, very rich man today. And all that talk about the NFL downsizing its executive pay and cutting back expenses is going to be lost in the coverage of this and other free agent deals.

I’ve been away from Nashville for the past couple of days (I’m back this morning), so I’ve missed the final two days of saturation “final days” coverage of Haynesworth’s free agency on radio sports talk shows in Nashville. However, it has been a major topic on those programs for months (years?).

At some point, I tuned out.

I knew the Titans wouldn’t re-sign Haynesworth. In its history in Nashville (and I assume in Houston, but my knowledge does not extend past the Titans era), the ownership and management of the Titans have followed a pattern of building from the draft up and have never (that I can recall) gotten into a bidding war to sign or retain a high-profile, big-ticket, superstar free agent.

It is frustrating to fans to see favorite players like Haynesworth leave. And Albert will be missed. He played his college ball at the University of Tennessee so he joined the Titans with a built-in fan based. (If my memory is correct, he was the first such Tennessee-Tennssee superstar.) His play was not always consistent during some of his seven years with the Titans as he was easily injured and his size seemed to impede his ability to go full-speed the entire game. It became a runnning-joke to those I sit with at Titans games to guess how many injury time-outs Haynesworth would require in a game.

The low-point of his Titans (and I hope entire NFL) career came two years ago when, after the completion of a play, Haynesworth stomped on the helmetless head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode, resulting in 30 stitches on Gurode’s forehead and a five-game suspension for Haynesworth.

But I’ll give Haynesworth credit: Unlike other players I’ve observed over the years, I think the incident and its aftermath had an effect on Haynesworth wherein he became a better, more focused player. He also came back knowing he had to rehabilitate his image and career to make today’s payday a reality. And I give him the credit: He did what he had to do.

But is he worth $41 million?

No.

I hate to see him leave, but I’m glad the Titans didn’t get into that level of bidding war.

I predict he’ll prove a disappointment to the Redskins over the long-haul. And I predict the money they’re spending on him will prove costly in other ways and will lead to even more disappointment. Over the long haul, Redskins fans will find the decision another thing to hate about the team’s ownership.

But meet me back here in 24 months and we’ll compare notes.

I’m a fan of Haynesworth, but I’m not big enough of a fan to think he’s worth $41 million cap dollars.

And I’m not a fan of bidding wars.

However, if the Titans would go after a high-price wide receiver, I might be convinced otherwise.

  • With the kinds of guarantees that appear to be on Haynesworth’s horizon, I wonder if he won’t downshift his level of play to make sure he doesn’t become an injury $tatistic. If he does, at least he won’t be a Titan injury statistic. Let’s wish him well, say “thanks for your contribution”, and move on to greater things.