When Albert Haynesworth took a check for $21 million from the Washington Redskins on April 1, Mike Shanahan figured that was an indication from the defensive tackle that he was on board for the 2010 season and everything it entailed.
He figured wrong.
Haynesworth was a no-show at Redskins Park today when the team kicked off its minicamp this morning and has made it known he will not be attending. According to Shanahan, the Redskins gave Haynesworth and his agent Chad Speck an opportunity to find a job elsewhere in mid-February when there started to be rumblings that the prized free-agent addition of 2009 wanted nothing to do with Jim Haslett’s defensive scheme. The only catch was Haynesworth needed to find a new team before April 1, and the Redskins didn’t want to pay him $21 million to go elsewhere.
“We let Albert know at that time that we would give him until April 1st to go to any team that he wanted in the National Football League, so if he wasn’t pleased in playing defensive end, nose tackle, or any other position that we had for him that we’d let him take a look at any team that he wanted to go to,” Shanahan said. “But, on April 1st, where we owed him a check of $21 million we said, ‘If you do take that check, we expect you to be the best defensive end, best nose tackle, if we play you at free safety, you’re expected to be the best free safety. Even though he’d have to lose a little weight.’
“Whatever position we wanted to play him at that he would do the best job he possible could, and make a commitment that he was going to be the best football player. Obviously he took the check, so I was surprised he wasn’t here today because I thought he did make the commitment once he took that check that he wanted to be a Washington Redskin. He wanted to do the best thing for the Washington Redskins to help our defense, and to help our football team win. And obviously, he didn’t go in that direction. Quite disappointed with him.”
The Redskins surely have considered that the Haynesworth situation would come to this point and now the team can consider fighting for a portion of the $26 million in bonus money Haynesworth has received. But battling the NFLPA on that issue might not be a fight worth having based on precedent. Haynesworth doesn’t want to be with the Redskins, the team has made a host of moves to prepare for life without him, but he’s been paid so much money they have to get some return for Daniel Snyder’s investment.
One NFL executive contacted today only said he’s glad this isn’t his problem with training camp right around the corner.
“I have no idea what Bruce (Allen) is going to do,” the exec said.
It’s not like Haynesworth – who has displayed positively no motivation despite being showered with $32 million – looks attractive to other teams. He looks like an athlete no one wants in their locker room. Is Shanahan still open to trading him?
“Well, I think I was pretty clear on the direction we’re going,” Shanahan said. “I’m not going to get specifically what we are going to do for obvious reasons, but anytime that you are letting a person that you had on your football team seek other opportunities because he was interested going into a four-man front and we gave him that opportunity, we were very specific that if he did take our signing bonus that we expected him to do the best job for the Washington Redskins and whatever position we felt like playing him that he would do the best job possible to help us win. This is a team and we made that very clear. To get specific on the other issues I think it’s a little premature at this time and for obvious reasons I don’t want to go down that road.”
Shanahan put the most positive spin he could on the situation, denying that it will be a distraction or a “cloud” over the organization. Speck has said the team surely doesn’t want Haynesworth distracting it.
“The thing is, it’s not a cloud. It's not a distraction because he hasn't been here,” Shanahan said. “That's the interesting part. But he has not been a distraction to me or to our football team because he hasn't been here. From a distraction standpoint, there hasn't been any, at least from my standpoint.”
Shanahan found out Tuesday night Haynesworth would not be arriving. He hasn’t spoken to the player since the first day of the offseason program when Haynesworth met with the coach and told him he would be doing his offseason training elsewhere.
“I'm here every day,” Shanahan said when asked why he hasn’t spoken to the player. “I've been working every day as part of our offseason program. My door is always open for any player. You want me to go down there and chase him around Miami?”
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