Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth signed a record-breaking contract just over a year ago and has already established himself as a major bust—or as I like to refer to him as, the $100 Million Mistake.
Last season, his performance dipped significantly to a level that was mediocre at best. Unfortunately, matters have only gotten worse since.
This offseason, Haynesworth missed virtually all organized team activities and is currently involved in an ongoing feud with new head coach Mike Shanahan. The few times he's attended practice, he's come overweight and has failed conditioning tests that even 47-year-old Mike Golic was able to pass.
Add those factors together, and it's understandable that he has drawn hatred from players and fans all across the league.
Of course, Haynesworth doesn't even appear to care.
Honestly, why should he?
He's already undeservingly pocketed $32 million in the past 15 months, and there's more guaranteed money still to come.
While this strengthens my firm standpoint that athletes are overpaid and shouldn't be awarded guaranteed money, a more important issue has emerged from this situation, as many believe that Haynesworth has created an obstacle that all future marquee free agents will have to overcome.
According to a news report by NFL.com, an undisclosed player said that in regards to big contract offers, "He's ruined it for everyone."
Should that be the case? Or better put, will it be?
Well, like it or not, while owners may be skeptical about making big-ticket investments, it doesn't appear that Haynesworth has ruined anything.
Yes, he got a huge contract and had a disappointing season...but that didn't stop the Chicago Bears from signing defensive end Julius Peppers to a six-year, $91.5 million contract this offseason.
While dominant at times, Peppers can, on the whole, be defined as relatively inconsistent at best and "streaky" at worst. On the surface, you'll see he has 81 sacks in his eight-year career, which is a very impressive total. But when you delve deeper, you'll find that seven of his 10.5 sacks last season were registered in the first eight games. Likewise, in 2008, 10.5 of his 14.5 sacks were in the final eight games, and in 2007, he only had 2.5 total in 14 games.
To clarify, that's 10 total sacks in 32 of his past 46 games...and 17.5 in the other 14.
Despite those bizarre splits (and Peppers' age, which is now on the north side of 30), the Bears, who were in need of a major upgrade to their roster, made the move to sign him.
Well, because quite frankly, they knew signing Peppers was ultimately their best opportunity to maintain even slight playoff hopes. With simply too much of an extreme between the best and worst teams in the league, those on the brink are forced to do whatever it takes to stay alive.
Without doing so, they understand that they wouldn't stand a chance.
For example, even though the Jets are hesitant to pay cornerback Darrelle Revis his asking price of $160 million, I expect them to eventually give in to his ridiculous demands—because without him, they are immediately out of Super Bowl contention.
Houston had the same situation with Andre Johnson, but the Texans paid their star wide receiver a record-setting $73.5 million deal to avoid a mess like the one Revis is in.
Sure, Johnson and Revis are the best at their respective positions...but Haynesworth was considered one of the best DTs in the league prior to last year too. Will those two follow in his path?
Hopefully not, but either way, the underlying principle remains the same: The competition between clubs is so tough that organizations are willing to live by the 'win at all costs' mantra.
Is it right?
In my mind, not at all.
Unfortunately, until the league does something about it, matters don't seem like they will be changing anytime soon.