The Redskins suspension of Albert Haynesworth for the final four games of the season for the catch-all “conduct detrimental” category — read insubordination — was a long time coming. It is small consolation in trying to get something back from a player they have tried to shed since the new regime arrived in January. And it ensures Haynesworth has played his last football — although some would hesitate calling it that — in the nation's capital.
Unfortunately for them, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan can't undo the massive obligation to Haynesworth from a year ago. They can only curse the prior regime for it, which they probably do every day. The contract and its structure made Haynesworth financially secure, snuffing out the limited motivation that Haynesworth had to improve or work hard.
The Titans had it right with Haynesworth in applying the Franchise tag and a year-to-year proposition. Just as JaMarcus Russell is the poster boy for what is wrong with rookie compensation, Haynesworth becomes the poster child for what is wrong with NFL free agency.
The Redskins tried, without success, to trade Haynesworth before $21 million – about half of his guaranteed $41 million — was due on April 1 of this year. Once that check was cashed, the team lost all leverage. Sure, they could have traded Haynesworth after April 1, but it made little sense after having paid the bulk of the financial obligation. Now they are just killing time until they pack his bags for him in a month.
The suspension will cost Haynesworth, if upheld, four games of his $3.6 million salary, or $847,000. Haynesworth will likely appeal. Team discipline, rather than league discipline, is heard by an independent arbitrator rather than the Commissioner or his designee. It will be interesting to see the union's position, as Haynesworth is not exactly the ideal test case. The union will argue that this suspension does not fit in the “progressive discipline” stair-stepping required.
Beyond the suspension money, the Redskins will likely try and recover some of the many millions previously paid to Haynesworth. Well, uh, good luck with that. Even if they are convincing to an arbitrator, my sense is that money has long since been spent.
The Redskins would love a mulligan for their signing of Haynesworth last year, but unfortunately there are no mulligans in the NFL.
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