Apparently, $32 million guaranteed in a little more than a year doesn’t buy the kind of loyalty it did in the past.
That is the most clear and staggering discovery following the news Tuesday night that Albert Haynesworth, the highest-paid defensive tackle in the history of the NFL, will take a pass on the mandatory two-day minicamp the Washington Redskins are beginning today.
Before delving a little further into this, we recall back to a conversation we had in January with a veteran league source. The source said if Haynesworth was unhappy playing for outgoing defensive coordinator Greg Blache, he had no idea what he was headed for in the 3-4 scheme that Jim Haslett was bringing with him to Washington. Apparently, Haynesworth does have an inkling of what was in store for him, and he wants no part of it. He’s prepared to fund the fines he’s going to pile up with the war chest he’s constructed from Daniel Snyder’s checks.
"The Redskins are trying to establish a new regime with new schemes at Redskins Park, and it is not an organization that Albert would have ever been attracted to just a short year ago -- regardless of the money," Haynesworth’s agent Chad Speck told Jason Reid of the Washington Post. "He has made it clear to me that he does not want to play for the Washington Redskins.
"This situation will be a distraction to the Redskins and to Albert and his teammates. I am certain Mike (Shanahan) and Bruce (Allen) want to get the most out of their first year and it's probably in everyone's best interests for the Redskins to make a deal and trade Albert."
The situation is that the Redskins have paid Haynesworth an enormous amount of money – he’s already pocketed $32 million of the $41 million guaranteed in the contract – and they want Haynesworth to play nose tackle even if they’ve stockpiled players at the position this offseason. Perhaps the club had an inkling this would happen.
Speck provided a statement from Haynesworth (really?) to Reid in which he explained his own thoughts or the thoughts of someone close to him.
"The Washington Redskins are a great and storied franchise, with an owner in Mr. Snyder that will do anything in his power to win and a fan base that is unrivaled in the NFL," the statement said. "When I signed here after meeting all day with the staff and top executives, and talked about the defense that we would run and what my role would be, I was assured I would have the freedom to play to my strengths and I was excited about the future.
"After many years in the NFL, I know what it takes for me to perform at my highest level. My No. 1 goal has always been to help my team win -- period. It's also important at my position to help free my teammates to make plays, which I've done throughout my career when I've been allowed to play to my strengths. I will continue to work individually to prepare for training camp and the start of the 2010 season."
Speck maintains that Haynesworth was told by Snyder before he signed that he’d basically be allowed to freelance in the defense. That didn’t happen under Blache and it certainly will not happen under Shanahan and Haslett. Because Haynesworth can’t play his way, he wants to take his ball (and his cash) and go home. Or go to another team. The Redskins have reportedly already tried trading Haynesworth. If they couldn’t strike a deal for him around the draft, it’s going to be much more difficult to do so now.
"This is not a good situation for anyone involved," Speck told Reid. "We understand that Mike and Bruce are going to do what they feel is best for the team, but this is not the organization that Albert was promised he'd be joining."
His teammates ought to have some interesting reactions today. Haynesworth can be fined nearly $10,000 for skipping minicamp. The Redskins can fine him almost $15,000 per day he misses when minicamp begins if he’s still AWOL.
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