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Redskins break the bank on Haynesworth

2/27/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The official press release arrived at 7:30 a.m. ET on Friday. The Washington Redskins had agreed to terms with the most dominant defensive tackle in the game in Albert Haynesworth. ESPN.com's John Clayton is reporting a seven-year, $100 million deal that includes $41 million guaranteed.

We'd been hearing that the guarantee might be in the $30 million to $40 million range, but it's still staggering to see that $41 million figure. Haynesworth immediately becomes the centerpiece of the Redskins' defense. Greg Blache will try to duplicate what the Titans were able to do with Haynesworth over the past couple of seasons. In the end, Tennessee never had a chance to re-sign the former Vol. Haynesworth benefited from being the only true big-ticket item in free agency. And I mean BIG ticket item.

In Nashville, Haynesworth helped make players such as Kyle Vanden Bosch elite pass-rushers off the edge. He was a disruptive force up the middle who could make it almost impossible to run inside. And his best trait is his ability to collapse the pocket against the passing game. The Redskins will move him up and down the line to create the best matchups. Or at least that's what they should do.

Haynesworth immediately helps the anemic pass rush because he commands so much attention. Is he worth $41 million in guaranteed money? Well, check back in a year or so. For starters, that's what the market dictated. Roger Goodell might be taking a 20 percent pay cut, but that didn't cause Redskins owner Dan Snyder to tighten his belt on this deal.

Snyder's obviously more comfortable throwing millions around in free agency than building through the draft. He tried skipping free agency last year, but the Redskins didn't exactly light up the draft. The Haynesworth deal -- as obscene as it is -- should signal to Redskins fans (and the rest of the NFC East) that Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato are willing to do whatever it takes. That's the type of contract normally reserved for a franchise quarterback. In 2007, the $30 million guarantee to Tony Romo blew everyone away. Now, the Redskins have raised the stakes -- by $11 million.

I stipulate to the fact that Haynesworth is perhaps the game's most disruptive force. Even more than some of the big-sack guys like DeMarcus Ware and Justin Tuck. But he does miss quite a few games (22 in seven seasons), and he has the reputation for taking plays off at times.

How will Haynesworth react now that he's been paid? As I pointed out Thursday, I think the Titans had him in the perfect position because he was basically in a "contract year" for two seasons. He was an MVP candidate in both of those seasons.

If the Redskins advance to the Super Bowl during the Haynesworth years, then we'll probably agree that he was worth the money. Anything short of that, though, and we'll focus most of our attention on his exorbitant contract.

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