When the New England Patriots traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Washington Redskins for Albert Haynesworth, the now-waived defensive tackle reworked his contract as part of the deal. The Patriots were only on the hook for $1.5 million this season.
So the general consensus was that the move was a low-risk, high-reward move for the Patriots. He wasn’t a need; he was a luxury, and if he played well, that would be icing on the cake for the Patriots. However, if he didn’t play well or, more importantly, he acted out of line, the Patriots management could cut their very small losses and just get rid of him.
There is where Haynesworth was doomed from the beginning. The Patriots seemingly acquired him only with the caveat that they could easily dispose of him if and when he did not live up to the team’s expectations.
It was a self-fullfilling prophecy.
Haynesworth’s tenure with New England started off on the wrong foot both on and off the field.
The defensive tackle missed a number of practices after being traded, and much of the speculation was because he failed Bill Belichick’s conditioning test and did not come physically fit. Making it an even bigger issue was the fact that it was not the first time this had happened in Haynesworth’s career.
Off the field, Haynesworth was charged in two separate incidents, and he was in the midst of taking care of both when he changed squads.
The 10-year NFL veteran was already behind the eight-ball in a number of ways. Not only was he facing his own legal and physical issues, but he was not very high on the depth chart. Vince Wilfork was always going to be the starter at nose tackle, the team was high on youngsters Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick and veterans Gerard Warren and Shaun Ellis were also in better standing than Haynesworth was.
There was almost a bit of hypocrisy in Haynesworth’s situation. The team needed him to turn around his play on the field and his attitude, but there weren’t going to be many opportunities for him to do so.
Things never got better for Haynesworth. He registered only three tackles and zero sacks in six games (out of the team’s eight). He was abused by the Giants offensive line in Sunday’s game, at one point on his back on three straight plays, which led to an unsavory interaction with coach Pepper Johnson on the sidelines.
So with the Patriots slumping and needing to make an example Albert Haynesworth was the obvious choice. Cheap, ineffective and possibly insubordinate made him very expendable.
The heated discussion with Johnson will make more of the headlines in the coming days, but don’t be fooled. Haynesworth’s days were numbered as soon as the trade with Washington was made. It seemed like everyone was just waiting for it to happen.
This isn’t the first time the Patriots have unceremoniously dropped a player, and the season will churn on for the team, experiment abandoned and just as quickly forgotten.
But for Haynesworth, does his failed tenure in New England put the final stamp on his career now, too?