Teams like the Minnesota Vikings have been mentioned as possible trade partners with the Washington Redskins for Haynesworth's services. The gut reaction from Vikes fans has been very polarized to say the least. Clearly the man stirs up more fan emotion than most players.
Here are some facts and perspective that may dispel the myths about Albert Haynesworth for many fans.
Myth 1: He's a thug.
For most fans, Haynesworth's career has been most memorable for "The Stomp" on Andre Gurode's helmet-less head in a 2006 Titans-Cowboys contest. That act resulted in 30 stitches for Gurode, and a then-record five-game suspension for Haynesworth.
So how is Haynesworth not a thug? Well, he's no choirboy. But the reality is, Haynesworth's total record on and off the field would not be close to the worst on any NFL roster, certainly not the Vikings roster.
He's never been convicted or even arrested for violence. He appeared to be remorseful after the Stomp, enough so that Gurode immediately accepted his apology. Haynesworth refused to appeal the long suspension even though that's what the NFLPA union wanted to pursue.
Most importantly, he's kept his nose clean since the incident.
Vike fans who cheer whenever Kevin Williams, Bryant McKinnie, or EJ Henderson play well, have proven they are willing to support good football players who between them have been arrested for various offenses ranging from domestic assault to bar fights.
Haynesworth's rap sheet pales in comparison.
Myth 2: His contract is too big.
Only a year ago, Haynesworth signed the biggest contract ever given to a defensive player; $100M over seven years. Who'd want to take on a contract like that from the Redskins?
The fact is, the contract was heavily front and back-loaded.
According to Rotoworld.com, over the next three seasons Haynesworth will be getting paid "only" $16M.
That's still a lot of money, but clearly fans thinking in terms of $100M and "highest paid defensive player" have the wrong impression, at least for the next three seasons.
In perspective, the $3.6M salary Haynesworth is due the rest of this season (he already got a bonus check for $21M from the Redskins last month), would have made him the 10th highest paid Viking last year. That would have placed him below Bernard Berrian, Madieu Williams, Heath Farwell, and Ben Leber, among others.
Myth 3: He had his big pay day. Stick a fork in him.
It's true that his numbers were way down in '09 after a career year in '08, which happened to be his contract year.
But those assuming Haynesworth is already washed up are not taking into account he played in a Redskins scheme that forced him to read and react, as well as protect linebackers, more than he'd been expected to do in Tennessee.
In a two-gap scheme like that favored by Redskins coordinator last year Greg Blanche, the inside defensive linemen will end up sacrificing a lot of their stats to the backers.
Everyone knows the Pats Vince Wilfork is a great player, but his stats don't show it. Why? Because he's busy controlling gaps and protecting LBs.
Blanche is gone this year, but new head coach Mike Shanahan might want his DL to protect the LBs even more. Three very productive Broncos LBs during the Shanahan era were John Mobley, Al Wilson, and Ian Gold, all guys on the lighter side that needed a lot of protection from their big guys upfront.
In Minnesota, other than Pat Williams, the DL plays much less two-gap than the Redskins. It's true that Haynesworth's best natural position is the same as Kevin Williams', a one-gap three-technique DT. But if Haynesworth is willing to rotate between either DT jobs and the power LDE slot, he's certainly physically able to do so.
And he never played on a line that included Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, and an emerging Ray Edwards. He might not see a half-dozen double teams a game if he played on that line.
If somehow Vikes personnel czar Rick Spielman were able to acquire Haynesworth, no one should be surprised if Haynesworth not only equaled his best years as a Titan, but surpassed them.
Can you tell I'd support a trade for Albert Haynesworth? I think most Vike fans would, if they kept the facts in mind rather than the myths.