NFL Nation: Redskins
So big is the deal Albert Haynesworth has agreed to with the Washington Redskins, that the Titans will be out of the doghouse with many of their fans who were ready to pounce with complaints about their unwillingness to pay him.
|Albert Haynesworth shows why he is one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL.|
John Clayton says the deal is for seven years and $100 million, with the potential to max out at $115 million. It includes $41 million in guarantees, a stupefying $32 million of that over the first 13 months.
There will be a press conference Friday.
While as many as six teams expressed an interest and were in the ballpark of $30 million to $40 million in guarantees, Tampa was the last team standing before the Redskins closed it.
The deal stirs up a lot of questions, of course:
- What does Haynesworth now need to do to be worth that kind of cash? In seven years with Tennessee, he had 454 tackles and 24 sacks while missing 22 of 112 games due to injuries. He could play every game and be more productive than ever and there will still be questions as to his worthiness of that kind of contract.
- How are the Redskins affording this and what does it do to their salary cap over the life of the deal? Think they are rooting for 2009 to be the last capped year? The longtime thinking from the players' side has been that if the league reaches an uncapped year, it will never go back, thus the urgency for a new CBA by this time next year.
- What was the last offer the Titans made and what was it worth? It would be good for them if they offered something reasonable and are able to say they made an effort but simply wouldn't approach that stratosphere. Jim Wyatt reports it was in the $11 million-a-year range. If the Titans were going to lose Haynesworth no matter what, Washington may have done them a favor. Fans will be hard-pressed to bemoan Tennessee's inability or unwillingness to approach these numbers. Will we hear numbers from the Titans or from Haynesworth at his introduction in D.C.?
- Is there any possibility the Titans ask the league to investigate a tampering charge? Based on a report, denied by agent Chad Speck, that the team had worked out a deal before free agency officially started, they could. These things are hard to prove, and considering the likely gap between the package he got and the maximum the Titans offered it might prove fruitless and a waste of energy for Tennessee to pursue it. It's generally hard to prove such a complaint, but the speed of the deal certainly raises questions about if the league should look to somehow strengthen the prohibition against early talks or officially loosen up on what can go on from the combine forward as free agency approaches.
- Will the Titans take a serious swing at Dallas free agent Chris Canty? They've already been in touch. But his price and the price of defensive tackles and defensive linemen will go up because of Haynesworth, even thought it shouldn't have much of a bearing. Scouts Inc. gave Haynesworth a grade of 93, with Jovan Haye the next best available tackle at just a 73. They've got Canty listed as an end, which is what he played in Dallas' 3-4, at a 77. I think the Titans could still have a reasonably strong line with Tony Brown and Jason Jones as the interior starters, though they can certainly fortify things beyond that.
- Even if Haynesworth plays super football in Washington, he'll be under the microscope. Should he underachieve there he will get hammered by fans and media, but it doesn't mean he would have done the same had the Titans managed to keep him. Again, it's awfully hard to complain that they didn't based on the numbers. The debate now is more about the ease with which they handed him easy routes to ensure he wasn't franchised a second time.
- In recent years, as the Titans got good again, Haynesworth gave them something they had lacked for a stretch: a player who was good enough that he was unafraid to speak his mind. He entertained us with shots at Matt Schaub and gripes about the front office not pursuing a big-play receiver. It's unlikely anyone in the locker room now will match that fearless outspokenness. The team won't miss that, but I sure will.
LANDOVER, Md. -- Redskins running back Clinton Portis had just completed one of his best days as a pro Sunday, but none of that mattered as the Browns lined up for a 54-yard field-goal attempt to send the game into overtime.
|Drew Hallowell/Getty Images|
|Clinton Portis rushed for 175 yards and a TD, his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game.|
Even though he'd punished the Browns for four quarters with 175 yards on 27 carries, Portis stood to be the goat if the Browns pulled off the comeback.
After a dramatic goal-line stand by the defense, the Redskins took over at their 3-yard line. As he had all night, Portis spotted a seam and bounced outside for what he thought was going to be a 97-yard touchdown run. But as he raced down the right sideline, Browns cornerback Eric Wright jabbed the ball out from behind.
"I gotta know better," said Portis, wearing the type of gold eyewear that can't be found at Sunglass Hut. "I was running wild and trying to dig. The guy just made a great play."
Asked how he felt when Phil Dawson's 54-yard attempt sailed wide right, Portis told a reporter to think of the "best relief you've had in your life."
Portis' turnover led to a Browns touchdown, and opened the door for Dawson's attempt. The Redskins held on for a 14-11 victory that helped ease some of the sting from last week's 19-17 home loss to the surging Rams.
Earlier in the week, Portis said he didn't know if a hip injury would allow him to play against the Browns. With backup Ladell Betts already out, Jim Zorn had to dial up former Seahawk Shaun Alexander, whose best days are well behind him.
Portis didn't practice all week, but he said a couple of massages helped enable him to play. And given the circumstances and the Redskins' lack of rhythm in the passing game Sunday, Zorn had to ride his best player.
"I think Clinton Portis is an absolute workhorse," Zorn said. "And our offensive line takes pride in that. I think teams are coming to stop our run, but we're staying with it."
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
|Rob Tringali/Getty Images|
|Chris Samuels has made five Pro Bowl appearances.|
Just as the Pacman story was breaking Wednesday evening, I had the opportunity to spend 30 minutes on the phone with Washington Redskins left tackle Chris Samuels. Now in his ninth season out of Alabama, Samuels has played for five different head coaches.
He's been to the Pro Bowl five times, which is the second most for an offensive lineman in club history. Samuels credits Jim Zorn for not allowing the Redskins to lose their confidence after a miserable season opener in the Meadowlands.
"The Giants actually dominated us for four quarters," said Samuels. "Everyone had pretty much written us off. But coach Zorn's one of those people who never gets too low and never gets too high. He provided outstanding leadership during a tough time."
In the days following the 16-7 loss to the Giants, running back Clinton Portis was critical of the play calling and the offensive line's performance. Samuels said he and Portis were able to laugh about the criticism because "he didn't really mean it."
"Ever since then, we've been clicking and rolling," Samuels said.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt MosleyPHILADELPHIA -- It's hard to believe there was a time when we thought the Washington Redskins were the cellar dwellers in the NFC East. It has only been a month since they opened the Jim Zorn era with a stumbling 16-7 loss, but this isn't the same team.
|Paul Spinelli/Getty Images|
|Clinton Portis rushed 29 times for 145 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles.|
The Redskins completed a remarkable two-week swing with a 23-17 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field to improve to 4-1. This is no longer an upset-minded team. Quite simply, this has all the makings of a playoff team.
Washington withstood a furious start by the Eagles, and then spent the final three quarters dominating every aspect of the game. Eagles coach Andy Reid was left mumbling something about putting his team in the right position, which for now is dead last in the NFC East.
A week after gashing the Cowboys for 144 rushing yards, the Redskins picked up 203 against the Eagles. Philadelphia came into the game giving up 53.8 yards per game, but Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts combined for 70 in the first half alone. Portis finished with 29 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown.
With the Redskins facing fourth-and-1 at the Eagles' 38-yard line with 2:48 left in the game, Zorn never hesitated to call Portis' number. The running back plowed forward for three yards to seal another huge division win. And when Zorn emerged from the visiting locker room later, Portis' family members were waiting on him.
"I hope you don't think I abused your son today," Zorn said to Portis' mother. Some of you might recall that Portis was critical of Zorn's play-calling after the loss to the New York Giants, but that game's now a distant memory.
On Sunday, the Redskins couldn't have asked for a worse start. The Eagles scored on their first possession, and following a Redskins three-and-out, rookie DeSean Jackson returned a punt 68 yards to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead.
That's when Zorn made an important decision. He stuck with a game plan that included a steady dose of running plays to the left side and passes to Chris Cooley. With the Eagles taking Santana Moss out of the game, quarterback Jason Campbell stayed calm and relied on other players.
"It would've been easy to get away from the game plan and get pass happy," Campbell told me after the game. "But it was too early for that. We had a good game plan, so we just decided to stick with it."
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Les Carpenter does a nice job summing up Jim Zorn's first victory as a head coach. It's sort of refreshing to see a guy who had no clue what to do after the game. The way Carpenter tells it, players had to direct Zorn to midfield so he could greet Saints head coach Sean Payton.
- Dan Daly of the Washington Times takes us inside the game-winning touchdown to Santana Moss. Zorn wanted to go after Saints corner Usama Young on the play, but he had to settle for beating rookie Tracy Porter.
- Some interesting notes from Ryan O'Halloran in the Washington Times. He's not pleased with the pregame fireworks display and the fact that the Redskins feel the need to prompt fans to remain quiet when the Redskins' offense is at the line of scrimmage.
- Washington Post columnist Mike Wise has a stirring defense of Jason Campbell this morning. I thought Campbell was brilliant down the stretch, but it's a little early to declare all the critics wrong. For one day, though, Campbell validated everything that Zorn has been preaching.
- Clinton Portis got off to a rough start, but on Sunday, he didn't blame Zorn or his offensive line (as he did on Wednesday). He backed up a little so he could see things develop, and the results were devastating to the Saints' defense.
- Thomas Boswell takes a poetic look at Zorn's first victory, saying it felt like it would count for more than one win. Great nugget about Zorn micromanaging the sideline. Apparently he told the guys providing shade to players that they needed to ice their elbows at halftime. And I don't think he was kidding. There will be more bumps in the road, but let's give Zorn an opportunity to savor this one. OK, time to move on.
|AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais|
|Jason Campbell (above) says he learned a lot while watching quarterback Todd Collins lead the Redskins to the playoffs last year.|
ASHBURN, Va. -- Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell changes his expression at least once a month. He's the face of the franchise, but you'd never know it by the way he carries himself.
Somehow, he's staved off celebrity in a part of the country that worships its football team. In fact, I watched him walk past Joe Theismann on Wednesday without even being noticed by the club's legendary quarterback.
Earlier, I spent 45 minutes talking to Campbell about football and his other passion, fishing.
In a short time, he and new head coach Jim Zorn have created a special bond. And that's not easy when you're used to coaches leaving all the time. From the start, Zorn reminded Campbell of his former offensive coordinator at Auburn, Al Borges, who ran the "Gulf Coast" offense and helped lead the Tigers to a 13-0 season in 2004.
"There are a lot of similarities," Campbell said. "They're both very positive and not uptight. Zorn is a mellow guy who treats you like a grown-up."
Campbell laughed when asked about a recent team meeting that has become a running joke in training camp. Zorn stood up and talked to the team about the proper dress code on road trips. And he wanted to let them know that he wasn't as out of touch as they might think.
"I know jeans are popular for you guys," Campbell recalls Zorn saying. "I want people to feel good about what they're wearing, and part of fashion is unique denim."
In what must've been a surreal moment for the players, Zorn began naming off certain brands (True Religion, Republic, 7's for All Mankind) and noted that he understood that people would be wearing $250 T-shirts.
Then he turned around, pulled down his pants and tightened his belt.
"But I don't want you to wear saggy jeans," he said to roaring laughter.
Campbell characterized it as a breakthrough moment for the new staff. He also echoed what several other players, including tight end Chris Cooley, mentioned: Zorn is upfront about when practices, meals and meetings will be held.
It was a common complaint that Joe Gibbs liked to keep everyone guessing.
"I never asked how things were done with scheduling before," Zorn said. "This is simply how I believe it should be done."
Zorn has not tried to change everything about Campbell overnight. He believes in a gradual process. He's heard other coaches tell players to "stand tall in the pocket," but it's something you'll never hear come out of his mouth.
Even with 5-foot-11 Seneca Wallace in Seattle, Zorn wanted him to stay low in the pocket. He's asked Campbell to take wider steps to get to the back of his drop and he believes that bending his legs and being more athletic will allow him to be more accurate and have more velocity. In his preseason debut, Campbell appeared to be a willing pupil, completing all five of his passes, one for a touchdown, in a win against the Colts.
Campbell could've been insecure about the fact that his season-ending injury allowed backup Todd Collins to lead the Redskins to the playoffs last season. Instead, he stood on the sideline and studied Collins' every move.
"After everything this team had been through with Sean Taylor's death, I was thrilled to watch us go on that run," Campbell said. "I tried to learn as much as I could."
What he learned from Collins is that it's OK to check down several times a game if nothing else is there. Campbell was putting pressure on himself to make plays when he could've been dumping the ball off to running backs.
"Sometimes it's OK to throw a five-yard pass to [Clinton] Portis and let him run 50 yards," he said.
He spent part of his offseason fishing with his parents and girlfriend, a former Miss District of Columbia, in ponds and lakes near his home in Hattiesburg, Miss.
The family even accepted an invitation to fish on Brett Favre's farm one afternoon. He said that Favre was "off in the woods working on something," so they never saw him.
"Brett must not be fishing that lake very much," said Campbell, "because my mom and girlfriend were catching everything. When my girlfriend caught a 5-pound bass, Dad got really serious and started grindin'."
For more on Jason Campbell's trip to the Favre family farm, keep reading the NFC East blog.