For those who didn’t know, the Eagles recently named former Tennessee Titans Defensive Line coach Jim Washburn to the same position with the team. Over the last day rumors have started to fly about player, who thrived under his tutelage in Tennessee, possibly bringing his talents to South Philly. This player is current Washington Redskins disgruntled DT Albert Haynesworth. Now at first glance most fans would say no thanks and not give it another thought. But I believe the decision shouldn’t be that easy.
As I mentioned in the roster breakdown, the Eagles have good depth at the DT position but lack a difference maker. In his final year with the Titans in 2008, Haynesworth was one of the most dominant players in the NFL. He was a pro bowler and named to the All-Pro team in both 2007 and 2008. Then in the 2009 offseason, he signed a huge free agent deal with the Redskins and has never been the same player since. He registered a respectable 4 sacks in 2009 and had a solid year. Things began to go really bad when Mike Shanahan was hired in Washington and he switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense.
Haynesworth was very outspoken about this and their relationship soured quickly. He showed up to camp and failed a basic conditioning test numerous times. In Haynesworth defense, he was correct in stating that his style of play did not fit the 3-4 and this would not allow him to be the dominate player he was in Tennessee. But he signed a contract and was paid a lot of money. He should have just quietly requested a trade and played football until it happened.
So with all the baggage Haynesworth brings with him, should the Eagles actually consider signing him? I believe that the answer is yes. But before they would sign him, I have a few things that must happen. The first is that he must be released by Washington or agree to completely restructure his current contract. He is not worth the amount of money he is currently signed for. And if he is not released, I would not give up more than a late round pick for him. The second thing he must be willing to do is have a significant amount of money both back loaded and incentive based. Haynesworth has the reputation for being a lazy player, he needs to be motivated and it seems that money is a clear motivator for him. The third thing is to have an “escape clause” written into the contract. This would allow the Eagles to have the flexibility to release him down the road without having huge financial and cap consequences. The final and maybe the most important stipulation is that current Defensive Line Coach Jim Washburn must agree to bring him in. Washburn had a lot of success with Haynesworth while coaching him in Tennessee. He was able to mold Haynesworth into the most dominating defensive tackle in the game. If Washburn believes he can motivate him and he believes Haynesworth can still be a dominate player. I say take a chance on him.
In Haynesworth's final season with the Titans, he recorded 8.5 sacks. Last year Bunkley, Laws, Patterson and Dixon combined for 8 sacks. Now I know that sacks are not always a great indication of how well a DT is playing, but it was clear last year the DT play of the Eagles was not great. As I mentioned in a previous article, there are not any other realistic options to upgrade the defensive tackle position in the off-season. Haynesworth could potentially be a dominate player and he shouldn’t come at a steep price. He would be an immediate upgrade at the position and would give the Eagles flexibility to address other needs in offseason. The Eagles have some good players on defense, but outside of Cole and Samuel they lack any difference makers. It comes at a risk, but if the 4 stipulations I mentioned are met. The risk is greatly decreased and the potential impact Haynesworth could have makes it worth the risk.