HAYNESWORTH WORTH THE RISKBy Mike Reiss
The acquisition of Albert Haynesworth has a Corey Dillon- and Randy Moss-type feel to it -- low-risk and high-reward.
One of the biggest questions facing the Patriots is their pass rush, and Haynesworth, immensely talented in that area, should provide a major boost. When he wants to play, the 6-foot-6, 335-pound mountain of a man has proved to be unblockable.
So from an X's and O's standpoint, this is exactly what the football doctor ordered, a reminder that the pass rush can come from more than just the often-discussed outside linebacker position. The Patriots were in subpackages 57 percent of the time last season, and lining up Haynesworth as an interior rusher in those situations is powerful.
An added bonus would be if he can contribute as a right defensive end in the 3-4 alignment, which is a bit less certain because it's different than what he's been asked to do in the past.
That's the football-specific reward, so now let's focus on the risk -- draft-pick compensation, salary and locker-room dynamic.
A 2013 fifth-round draft choice for Haynesworth is barely a ripple.
Meanwhile, the salary component is unknown. It would be a surprise if the Patriots simply pick up his lucrative contract. Instead, it likely will be renegotiated and reduced similar to Moss' arrival in 2007, and such a scenario would further limit the risk.
And finally, there is the fragile locker-room dynamic, the importance of which was highlighted over the past two seasons when the Patriots went from fractured to unified. After the 2009 season, owner Robert Kraft made the point that sometimes games are lost before players take the field, which spoke to the importance of the locker room.
That looks like the greatest unknown here with Haynesworth, who comes with significant baggage. The Patriots are relying on the strong culture they've created -- and the leadership of players like Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Alge Crumpler -- to put Haynesworth in a position where he can thrive, serving as a spoke in the wheel instead of the player asked to hold the wheel together.
Much like Moss in 2007, they figure to have a no-tolerance short leash on Haynesworth.
Add it all up and the high-reward/low-risk nature of the deal makes this a solid move.
HAYNESWORTH NOT WORTH THE POTENTIAL HEADACHEBy Chris Forsberg
Despite not even officially being on the team yet, Albert Haynesworth had already made himself the center of attention on the first day of Patriots training camp Thursday. You should probably get used to that.
For the better part of the past two years, Haynesworth has drawn far more headlines for his actions off the field rather than on it.
From failing conditioning runs to complaining about 3-4 defenses to publicly calling out his coach and organization, Haynesworth's time in Washington was a nightmare. Enough so that when he was suspended for the final four games last season by my-way-or-the-highway coach Mike Shanahan, Redskins special-teams captain Lorenzo Alexander noted, "It was a lingering distraction. We had to talk about it constantly. I wouldn't say it's good that he's gone, it's more that the situation is over with."
And Washington was 5-7 at the time; it needed all the distractions possible.
How did Haynesworth spend the offseason? He got charged in two separate incidents, settling out of court in a road-rage case and getting accused of fondling a waitress at a hotel bar in Washington. He has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse in that case and is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 23, four days before the Patriots' third preseason game.
Many New England fans will turn a blind eye toward all this; that's just how sports work. He's a Patriot now, the soon-to-be latest reclamation project kept in line by the Patriot Way (see also: Randy Moss, Corey Dillon). If Haynesworth can rekindle the sort of production that saw him selected to the All-Pro team in 2007 and 2008, recording a combined 14.5 sacks those two seasons, it'll be another brilliant and brazen move by the Patriots.
And nonguaranteed contracts make this a low-risk, high-reward signing. But consider this: On Day 1 of camp, Ty Warren's health after missing all of last season was secondary to Haynesworth's addition. Vince Wilfork was being asked about the potential of playing defensive end. Deion Branch said he hadn't met Haynesworth before, but that didn't stop a string of questions about him.
Does a team that was 14-2 last year really need a potential headache?
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