Flash back to the 2008-09 season, when Titans’ Albert Haynesworth recorded 41 tackles, mustered 8.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. The defensive tackle was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, and teams that were in need of an interior pass rusher had him ranked high on their wish lists.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Last season, Haynesworth was seemingly invisible – recording just 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a member of the Washington Redskins. The infamous seven-year, $100 million contract that owner Dan Snyder awarded to him was looking to be a bust of epic proportions. Surrounded by bad press, Haynesworth was best known for arguing with teammates and coaching staff, as well as battling legal problems off the field. He was most remembered for taking a nap on the grass vs. Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football in front of a national audience.
Enter Bill Belichick.
In July, the Patriots traded for the troubled defensive lineman by giving up a fifth-round draft pick in 2013. The goal was to put Haynesworth in a position where he could, once again, succeed. In Washington, Haynesworth often griped about playing in a 3-4 base defense. But the Patriots run a hybrid defense, so he would be able to play in a 4-3 as he did with the Titans, where he can take up blockers and is at his best.
Last year, the Patriots operated out of a 3-4 base roughly 40 percent of the time. But in training camp thus far, more four-men lines have been used. In this formation, the 335-pound Haynesworth would play alongside the 325-pound NT Vince Wilfork in the interior of the defensive line.
This isn't a normal move by Belichick and the Patriots organization by any means. “The Patriot Way” is centered around strong team play and doing whatever it takes to win – two principles Haynesworth did not abide by in Washington. And Belichick is stepping out of his element with this acquisition, as he tends to avoid players with emotional or legal issues.
The move was low-risk in nature. Haynesworth was due to make $5 million this upcoming season, but agreed to restructure his contract and will make a base salary of $1.5 million and $6.7 million in 2012.
Regardless, Haynesworth has endured major knee injuries over the years, and has the potential to be a locker room cancer -- the very thing the Patriots organization tends to avoid.
Could this experiment be the first time Belichick fails in attempting to bring in a big-name player into New England's no-nonsense system?