In what can only be described as one of the most disappointingly apathetic stories in recent NFL memory, Washington Redskins multi-millionaire defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth cannot pass a mandatory conditioning test to begin practicing with the team. Haynesworth attempted the test on both Thursday and Friday, but failed to complete it in the allotted time allowed by the team. After complaining of knee pain and swollenness in that same left knee, the big defensive tackle has been watching from the sidelines for the past three days now as his teammates all take part in drills.
It’s difficult to decide what angle to take when approaching this story, but the most practical is simply to say ‘I told you so’ to Redskins owner Daniel Snyder who insisted on throwing millions at Haynesworth even with significant motivational questions about his work ethic. The former member of the Tennessee Titans was often billed as an underachiever and lackadaisical during his days in Nashville. It was quite a coincidence that his breakout season in 2008 just happened to coincide with the year for Haynesworth to hit the open market via free agency. Many believed that the big defender would simply shut it down after fattening his bankroll a bit and to this point it seems that side has won the argument.
The other aspect to this story is the new regime in place with the Redskins as new Head Coach Mike Shanahan has installed a 3-4 defensive scheme with his coordinator Jim Haslett. Hayneworth has been vocal about his distaste with playing the nose tackle position and has openly requested a trade from the team just twelve months after signing the most lucrative contract ever given to a defensive play in NFL history. Known as a player that likes to get up the field and penetrate the backfield, Haynesworth’s style really doesn’t fit the 3-4 system all that well and he would have to adjust his style of play to make things work in Washington. That would mean a decline in numbers and production from the big man who’s biggest concern right now should be simply getting on the field.
What does all of this mean for the Redskins and their always unpredictable owner Snyder? At the moment, it looks like just another signing gone wrong for the cursed Skins and the idea of trading Haynesworth has to be at least on the agenda. It seems logistically impossible to trade a contract of the magnitude that Haynesworth’s is, but Washington would eat the bulk of the signing bonus leaving his new team in a trade scenario with only a moderate yearly salary to pony up. Still, teams won’t give up much (if anything) to inherit a player with a clear lack of work ethic and little passion for the game of football. For now at least, it looks like the uncomfortable situation in Washington is going to remain in limbo as Haynesworth continues to fall out of favor in the nation’s capital.