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Why the Eagles had no interest in Haynesworth

Redskins were looking to avoid paying $21-million bonus. Andrew Brandt

Print This April 06, 2010, 12:30 PM EST

One nugget from the Donovan McNabb-to-the-Redskins trade aftermath concerned the rumored inclusion of Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in the deal. Obviously, he was not, but the fact that the free-agent bonus baby of 2009 was being shopped around is news. A closer look at the contract shows, however, why taking on Haynesworth was a nonstarter for the Eagles and how untenable it would have been to include him.

$21M paid on April 1

As part of the megadeal that Haynesworth signed in the opening hours of free agency in 2009 – a contract that still has the league buzzing – Haynesworth received a $21-million – yes, $21 million -- option bonus that had to be exercised in the first 10 days of the 2010 league year, a time period that has now passed.

Also as part of that deal, the Redskins had a right to “supersede” that option payment and convert it to a signing bonus of the same amount. They did exactly that, payable in full on April 1 (last Thursday).

Potential recovery

One reason for the change is the treatment of the different bonuses for potential recovery purposes. An option bonus – as per the arbitration involving former Bronco Ashley Lelie – is treated as money that is “earned,” thereby shutting off recovery options for the team. A signing bonus – as per the Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress cases – does not afford appreciably greater protection for a team if the player engages in willful negative behavior, although it does potentially provide some relief.

Cap and cash accounting

The other reason deals with accounting. The Redskins initially structured the bulk of the bonus money in the contract – $21 million of the $26M total – in the form of an option bonus to keep the cash and cap hit on the deal out of 2009, the last capped year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and a year when, as has often been the case, the Redskins were snug against the cap.

Now that the Redskins got through 2009 into uncapped 2010, they used their contractually negotiated supersede right to turn the option into signing bonus.

And as part of the renegotiation, the Redskins added a clause allowing Haynesworth to void the contract after next season and walk away, having pocketed over $24M from the team in two years.

Haynesworth can now void the remaining years of the deal after 2010 if – and only if – he returns four-fifths of the $21M he is now receiving, or $16.8M. Of course, he’ll only do that if he finds a team willing to pay him more than that a year from now, which would require some serious tampering discussions. He likely will not have the money to void it anyway since it may be spent by this time next year.

Also, with a player-controlled void – as Haynesworth now has – the entire $21M is contained in 2010 for cash and cap purposes with no proration allocated to future years.

Containing costs in uncapped year

With new general manager Bruce Allen trying to move the team away from the credit card spending mentality of the past, the Redskins are trying to “pay as they go” more than ever. Despite no cap, they are operating as they would pre-2010, as Allen used this void tactic previously when he was with Tampa. Allen may also suspect, as do other GMs around the league, that there will be some kind of retroactive accounting in place next season and wanted to incur the bulk of the cash and cap burden of Haynesworth’s deal in 2010.

Now untradeable

Beyond the intricacies of the option/signing bonus/void and its accounting treatment, the bottom line is that the Redskins gave Haynesworth a check for $21M last week, perhaps the biggest single check written in the NFL this year. So any trade discussions to move Haynesworth this year ended last Wednesday, as an acquiring team would have had to take on that amount or restructure it by that time.

Whatever people think of ‘Skins owner Dan Snyder and his proclivity to spend, no one gives someone $21M to play for someone else.

NBA trade

The Redskins were shopping the Haynesworth contract, one they willingly agreed to a year ago, as much as they were shopping Haynesworth. This was an example of an NBA-style proposed trade, an offer to take a bad contract off a team’s books. For the Eagles, or any team, to take on the Haynesworth contract prior to April 1 would have been a colossal investment for a player who already has questionable motivation.

We may see more of this type of trade where the value becomes more related to financial obligations than player value. With disproportionate amounts paid to the top players in the draft, we may see teams try to move out of these overpriced slots and upset the traditional value chart of draft choices. That chart, of course, does not take the financial ramifications into account. It should.

Albert Haynesworth and his $21M are staying with the Redskins, whether they like it or not. At least if he does become an ex-Redskin some time in the future, they will have lessened the potential consequences of his release. It’s not as good as trading him and his contract, but some relief nonetheless.

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Add a Comment
Apr 06, 2010
01:21 PM

I am MOST interested in the contract specifics of Nnamdi Asomugha, if you have them. If--as has been reported--a swap involving Asante Samuel, Donovan McNabb and Asomugha was discussed, I'd fervently like to see the Eagles pursue an Asante-for-Asomugha trade independent of McNabb, as it is a genuine undoubted upgrade for Philly and Nnamdi might be willing to sign an extension that diminishes his implied cap figure but earns him all the money his insane Raiders deal has due to him.

Apr 06, 2010
02:20 PM

Being an uncapped year the Skins should take the hit and cut his fat lazy ass. This had problems written all over it they moment they signed Fat Al. The dude is cancer. I seem to remember him at his press conference last saying he is going to be a team player and leader and that he would do whatever the team would ask of him. Well one year and some 30 odd million later and Fat Al starting crying like a little girl in December. Now he is bitching and complaining about our switching to a 3-4. He has 40+million reasons to get is fat, lazy ass up to Ashburn and get on board with the program. But instead all he wants to do is cry. I applaud Coach Shanahan for trying to unload the loser onto someone else. Its a damn shame we can't give him to Oakland. The loser deserves to play with a loosing franchise.

John W
Apr 06, 2010
02:25 PM

As a Giants fan I love it when other NFC East owners shoot themselves in the foot with stupid deals like Haynesworth's.

First Jerry Jones gives away the farm for Roy Williams and then Snyder throws away a ton of money on Haynesworth. I love it.

Apr 06, 2010
02:29 PM

I believe this "news" came from the WashPost, which is notoroious for having burned its bridges to Redskins Park and having zero sources there. It makes little sense, since the Eagles obviously moved McNabb partly to get out from under his salary. Why would they take on one twice as big? Plus, there is no way anyone would trade the dominant DT in football for an aging QB like McNabb. Say what you want about Haynesworth, but he is unblockable. It's not his fault the Redksins had a control freak for a defensive coordinator last year who was determined to force AH to play his way, not the way that would be most effective for the team.

Apr 06, 2010
03:50 PM

Man alive! $21 million!

Does anybody remember when Reggie White's blockbuster deal was 17 mil for 4 years? Now Haynesworth gets more than that for his 2010 option bonus. I mean, I understand inflation, but we're talking about '93. It wasn't THAT long ago. Not to mention that Reggie won the Defensive PoY award and was the centerpiece of the Pack's championship season both in terms of his production and in his intangible leadership role.

So, what's the moral of the story? I don't know, take your pick:

It goes to show that paying a player more doesn't make him a better player.
It goes to show that Reggie made a lot of money for a lot of people by actually delivering on expectations.
It goes to show that winning the offseason is hit-or-miss.
It goes to show that Reggie White was the exception, not the rule.

I don't know. Something like that.

jerry in texas
Apr 06, 2010
09:52 PM

Did I read you correctly? Did you really type that Haynesworth wouldn't be able to repay $16.8 million out of a $21 million bonus "because it may be spent by this time next year." Are ;you soberly suggesting that someone could waste $16.8 million in one year? If so, that is just sick. Really, really sick.

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Apr 06, 2010
11:14 PM

yes i do think so. It goes to show that paying a player more doesn't make him a better player.

Apr 07, 2010
01:05 AM

@jerry he 'only' has to waste say 5 million to not be able to come up with 16.8 million, still crazy money, but only 1/3 as crazy as 16.8 million. And that money could easily be lost in a year by living large, to taxes (30% of 21m is 6.3mil), and making relatives comfortable for life.

Apr 07, 2010
01:17 AM

All Bear fans take note of this article. Because we will be talking about your "prized" Julius Peppers in about a year.

Apr 07, 2010
03:17 AM

John W: I seem to recall the Giants recently spending $37 million on a safety who averages only about two picks per season.

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Apr 07, 2010
12:51 PM

he will be a good man

Joseph Garrett
Apr 07, 2010
01:08 PM

Bears 2010 = Redskins 2009.

Thus, Mr. Touchdown's 4/7 comment above is spot-on.

Chicago's willing to gamble more than $100 million on free agents because it has to appease a large season ticket base that will have no draft picks in the first three rounds.

What else to do for good publicity than overspend?

Result: 8 or 9 wins maximum in 2010.

More likely 6 or 7.

Good luck Chicago, as Green Bay will be the class of the division long-term. As soon as Favre retires, Minnesota will be mediocre.

Apr 07, 2010
05:43 PM

@ Joseph, Bears have a 3rd round pick so I am not sure on your post in saying they do not have a pick in the 1st 3 rounds. Next time think before you post. Also Peppers will be great in Chicago and saying that he is anything like that head stomping bum AH is borderline retarded.

Mr. Murder
Apr 07, 2010
11:44 PM

Were this attached to a prerranged determination of where the money went, back into an investment structure that ownership shares, it would be entirely understandable.

Think of it as a parallel asset transfer.

Otherwise, we're talking bounty ball on payroll the likes of powerball.

Sabremetrics on steroids.

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