Bill Belichick has done it again, acquiring former $100-million man Albert Haynesworth for pennies on the dollar.
The Patriots will send a 2013 fifth-rounder to the Redskins in exchange for Washington’s once-prized free-agent defensive tackle, who coach Mike Shanahan infamously attempted to switch from the three-technique 4-3 tackle spot at which Haynesworth earned two All-Pro nods playing in Tennessee to a zero-technique 3-4 nose tackle.
After signing a seven-year, $100-million deal — which included a record $41 million in guaranteed money — on the first day of free agency in 2009, Haynesworth quickly fell out of favor with the Redskins organization and fan base. And after only 20 games and 6.5 sacks over two seasons, Haynesworth leaves the nation’s capital with a legacy as one of the worst cases of wasteful spending in D.C. history.
The 6’6”, 335-pounder hit rock bottom in Washington and his toxic reputation spans coast-to-coast. Recently, Haynesworth was described as “nearly 400 pounds of self-absorbed entitlement” in a New York Times blog.
That’s what makes this such a brilliant Belichick move. There’s nowhere to go but up in New England. The plan is to play Haynesworth along a D-line that also includes All-Pro nose tackle Vince Wilfork and former Pro Bowler Ty Warren, who missed last season with a hip injury.
This move is reminiscent of the 2007 trade for Randy Moss, a former All-Pro who had also bottomed out after admitting to quitting on the Raiders the year before. With a change of scenery, Moss went from catching 42 passes for 553 yards and three TDs in ’06 to 98 catches for 1,493 yards and 23 TDs for the 16–0 Patriots in ’07. There's no guarantee Haynesworth will experience that type of renaissance, but no one should be shocked if the pocket-collapsing mauler regains the walking double-team status he had not so long ago in Tennessee.
By comparison, however, the Moss trade was expensive. New England shipped a fourth-rounder to Oakland to start draft day two that year. This time around, Belichick only moves a 2013 fifth-rounder. And since the general rule is that a pick loses one round’s value for every year in the future, it could be argued that the Pats are acquiring Haynesworth for a seventh-round price.
In just two seasons, Haynesworth went from being the most valuable defensive player in history (in terms of dollars) to being nearly worthless. But smart money says Haynesworth’s stock is about to soar once again, as Belichick continues his reign as the Warren Buffett of the NFL.