Detroit Lions, Just Say No: Albert Haynesworth and Keith Bulluck
In one corner you have Albert Haynesworth, a supposed NFL defensive tackle.
In the other corner you have Keith Bulluck, a 33-year-old linebacker coming off a torn ACL.
And in the middle stands the Detroit Lions, a football team in the process of building from scratch.
We'll start with the man who signed a $100 million contract just a little more than a year ago. Warning signs were in place that he would take the money and run, but somebody had to take the chance. The Washington Redskins stepped right up and threw over $40 million guaranteed his way.
Haynesworth struggled last year with a bevy of things. He fought injuries, played poorly at times, and never seemed to endear himself to the team around him. His impact was minimal and the Redskins had another disappointing season.
Flash forward to today. The Redskins have brought in one of the most respected coaches in the NFL, Mike Shanahan. With him came a new defensive scheme. One that Haynesworth is not used to, nor is he willing to learn.
Albert is used the 4-3 defense and does not appreciate being told what to do. He claims the $100 million contract would never have been signed if he could tell the future. Well, sorry, you shouldn't have been stupid enough to think Jim Zorn would be your coach through the whole contract.
So now, Haynesworth wants to be cut or traded. And lot of signs point towards the Detroit Lions as a possible suitor.
Message to the Lions: Stay Away.
The building process has gone well so far for Detroit and there is no reason to mess with that. The offense has solid young pieces in place and even the defense is beginning to look like it belongs in the NFL again.
With Ndamukong Suh entering his first year in the NFL, Haynesworth is the last guy he should be using as a mentor. The Lions already have Corey Williams to help out the youngster on the other side. They also have Kyle Vanden Bosch to be a leader on the line.
Former teammates of Haynesworth seem to remember his laziness well. Kevin Mawae bluntly called out Haynesworth, saying this is no surprise to any of his former teammates.
And it shouldn't be a surprise to his former coach. Even if Haynesworth pleads with Schwartz to give him a chance, it is not worth it. He's about to hit 30 years old and is showing signs of decreasing ability.
Haynesworth has never shown the want to prove his personal stereotypes wrong. And Detroit should not be the place for him to continue to prove them right.
Even with his pure raw abilities, he wouldn't improve the team. The best scenario I envision would go something like this if Detroit were to sign him:
Haynesworth signs a one-year contract with Detroit. Plays well enough to garner interest from other teams, yet the Lions end up 6-10. He kept to himself, didn't work with Suh much and stalled Williams' attempt at re-establishing himself.
The defense still struggles, Haynesworth demands too much money to stay, and Detroit contemplates overpaying. They don't overpay, yet Williams is never able to get himself back to where he should be and the defensive line still has extra holes.
The worst scenario is simple: Detroit signs him to an expensive one-year deal. He disrupts what the coaching staff has built and his teammates don't like him. Detroit begins to lose, he complains about how he is not being used correctly, and Detroit is forced to deal with him en route to a 3-13 year.
Neither scenario is worth the chance. Not for Detroit, not for any team.
The same goes for Haynesworth's former teammate. Bulluck finds himself in an interesting situation. He is a solid tackler, but has begun wearing down the past few years. His ACL tore last season and who knows where he will go.
As a free agent not many teams have shown an interest. But, one team that has is the Detroit Lions.
After trading Ernie Sims there is a glaring weakness from a depth and talent standpoint at linebacker. As a previous player for Schwartz, it would only be natural Schwartz would want a familiar player.
Bulluck, however, has a different idea. He told the Detroit News , "If my option is to go to Detroit, yeah, all right, that's what we gotta do."
That was after mocking the amount of wins and lack of a championship-caliber roster. If a player wants to join your team as his last option, you shouldn't even be one.
As the Lions build their team, a 33-year-old linebacker is not worth it in the first place. One who admittedly doesn't want to play for them anyway isn't worth it in any place.
The Lions has a young linebacker in Zach Follett who should be given the chance to develop over signing a stop-gap in Bulluck. And even if Follett struggles, 29-year-old linebacker Landon Johnson should be given the opportunity to start.
It hurts me to say, but this isn't the year the Lions will win the Super Bowl. So taking chances on two pieces that wouldn't be here if that time ever comes is a waste of space.
Let the team develop, and if you have to take a chance in three years on a player who might be the missing piece, go for it.
But today, keep working on who fits for the future and don't hold them back from becoming better players.
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