By: Ian Logue
Patriots fans were greeted to quite a surprise on Thursday morning, with news breaking that the team had sent a 5th round pick to Washington to acquire disgruntled defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth.
Interestingly enough when head coach Bill Belichick addressed the media Thursday morning, he wouldn’t elaborate, saying only, “We’ll talk about him when it’s finished, if it’s finished.”
“If” is the operative word, since the trade is obviously contingent on Haynesworth passing his physical. That’s been a problem in the past, as has the conditioning test. Haynesworth failed it last season in Washington, with Redskins strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright telling the Washington Post that Haynesworth’s conditioning run consisted of two 300-yard shuttle runs broken into 25-yard increments, with three and a half minutes rest between the two repetitions.
Wright said in this article last year that when he failed it last year he was required to run 25 yards, touch his foot on the line and run 25 yards back a total of six times. For offensive and defensive linemen, the first run must be completed in 70 seconds or less and the second set in less than 73 seconds. Haynesworth ran it in 71 seconds, so he wasn’t able to attempt the second run.
Albert Haynesworth should be an interesting story to follow once he arrives in Foxboro. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
At the time many in the Washington media felt that Haynesworth’s conditioning test failure was an attempt to make a point with his unhappiness with head coach Mike Shanahan and his dislike for his role as a nose tackle with the Redskins in a 3-4 defense.
Interestingly enough the Patriots obviously play a 3-4, although Haynesworth wouldn’t have to worry about playing that position since that’s where Vince Wilfork lines up. Most project him to move over to the right end, which is where Richard Seymour played prior to his departure to Oakland.
Mike Reiss pointed out this morning that the 6-foot-6, 335-pound Haynesworth also gives Belichick more flexibility since the Patriots also run plenty of multiple fronts. Since the team also features a four-man line, Reiss writes that Haynesworth could be part of that mix and help with an interior pass rush – and points out that the Patriots were in sub more than 50 percent of the time last season.
That’s an area where he could certainly help them improve. During his press conference Belichick talked about the pass rush, but felt that having good pass coverage was also just as important. Said Belichick, “You can never have too much pass rush. You can never have too much pass coverage.”
The other part of the deal is going to be how the Patriots can work things out financially to fit him into the mix. Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe pointed out that Haynesworth’s contract that he signed in 2009 was for $115 million over seven years, but it’s essentially a four-year, $48-million contract because his base salary goes to $29 million in ’13 – which seems fairly ludicrous to have even structured it that way considering it’s a salary that no team would ever keep on their books. He’s reportedly due a $5.4 million in base salary this season (plus a $1 million workout bounus), along with $7.2 million next year. One would believe that the front office will figure out a way to make changes to that deal.
It’s an interesting move to say the least, and the Patriots suddenly find themselves with plenty of competition heading into camp should the Haynesworth deal go through. However, the fact Belichick even addressed it makes you think it’s going to happen, although given the fact that he wasn’t able to be at the Redskins’ facility this offseason, it will be interesting to see what kind of shape he’s in when he arrives in Foxboro.
However, Haynesworth still has plenty to prove, which could be a positive. He’s coming off of two disappointing seasons, including last year when he played in just 8 games, finishing with just 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks. The good news is playing for a championship contender, and Bill Belichick, could hopefully bring out the best in him.
With Wilfork, Ty Warren (who’s coming back from an injury), Haynesworth, Marcus Stroud and Mike Wright (who was also banged up last year), the Patriots have five veteran players who will see competition from younger guys such as Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick. Each of the younger guys contributed at different times last season, but unfortunately it’s unlikely we’ll see this entire group make the team this season.
Needless to say it’s an interesting move, and should this reclamation project work out anywhere near as well during the first year that Corey Dillon and Randy Moss arrived here, fans should be excited to see what the veteran can bring to this football team.
UPDATE: Marcus Stroud has reportedly been released by the team, which takes him out of the mix.