Why did the Titans let it come to this?

February, 22, 2009
2/22/09
10:52
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- David Climer asks the big question regarding Albert Haynesworth this morning: Why did the Titans let it come to this?

 Haynesworth

I've been a bit outspoken on this, saying the team gave away the right to franchise Haynesworth a second time too easily in negotiations to ensure he'd be in camp on time last year.

These were the incentives:

  • Make the Pro Bowl.
  • Play 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps.
  • Play 53 percent of the team's defensive snaps and the Titans win 10 games.
  • Play 53 percent of the team's defensive snaps and the Titans finish in the NFL's top five in total defense.

Haynesworth only needed to hit one to be freed of the threat of being franchised again. He hit the first three but not the fourth.

I asked Jeff Fisher if the Titans didn't negotiate the right to tag Haynesworth too easily.

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"I believe he was a big part of our defensive success last year, particularly because he was in training camp and he worked and he was conditioned and he started off fast," Fisher said. "There was always that possibility he would not have come to training camp had he not signed the franchise, then you've got all those other things."

In many ways, this is a first for the Titans. Yes, they let Jon Runyan walk away and didn't try to retain Jevon Kearse when he jumped to Philly. But most of their departures have been because of limited cap space or because they judged a guy to be done, almost always accurately. When they've had the financial resources they've locked up their top guys well in advance of free agency. If/when Haynesworth heads elsewhere, the Titans will be answering for something they haven't really faced since coming to Tennessee.

"It is unique, it's also not unique because we did do, I thought, everything we possibly could last year to try to get the deal done," Fisher said. "We made a decision which guaranteed us his services last year and we put a deal together which was good for both sides. He made three or of the four stipulations and it gave him an opportunity not to be franchised again. It doesn't mean we don't have a chance to sign him."

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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