There must be a direct line or a bat phone of some kind connecting NFL GMs who have a disgruntled yet still talented player to New England. The number to this line is highly secretive, and a cell phone is kept beside Bill Belichick’s bed throughout the night. Each time the cell phone is used, it has to be destroyed immediately.
In the early morning hours of Thursday ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots have acquired Albert Haynesworth from the Redskins for a fifth-round pick in 2013. Haynesworth of course aimed to re-define our classic definition of the petulant player over the past year in Washington, and he became quite creative. He did more than just the usual routine of moaning to the media and requesting a trade. He also failed multiple conditioning tests, earned a suspension for the final four games of the season, and had a highway scuffle.
The Pats have become a sick bay for the league’s discarded mental messes, so it’s not shocking to see Belichick take on another character project. The acquisition of Haynesworth is a low-cost gamble, and comes with the same amount of risk that the additions of Corey Dillon and Randy Moss did over the past decade. Both of those trades played out nicely, as Dillon powered a running attack that New England sorely missed and played a major role in the 2005 Super Bowl victory, while Moss’ tremendous chemistry with Tom Brady for three seasons also led to a Super Bowl appearance.
Belichick is cold and swift with personnel decisions, and demonstrated last year with Moss’ release that if the attitude of a malcontent player becomes too much, he’s shown the door quickly. Haynesworth will receive the same treatment off the field, but on the field he may actually be in a position to succeed. That’s of course assuming that he’s motivated to avoid on-field naps.
Haynesworth’s spiral in Washington began when he showed little desire to be the nose tackle in Mike Shanahan’s 3/4 scheme. The Patriots have Vince Wilfork for that role, meaning Haynesworth will be asked to be an interior pass rusher. He’s three years removed from excelling as the focal point of an interior pass rush when he finished with 8.5 sacks with Tennessee in 2008.
The Redskins are overjoyed to see him leave. With the Donovan McNabb trade set to be finalized today (or at least we hope so), two major character conflicts have been removed from Washington in the opening days of the negotiating period.
Now there will be an entirely new locker room environment as the Redskins begin the Andrew Luck sweepstakes training camp.
GLS MOVE RATING: 7/10