Commentary: Haynesworth the headache?

Albert Haynesworth has a big name among NFL fans, but does his production match the reputation, and is it worth the price tag the Vikings would have to pay if they wanted to trade for him? His stats and recent activity lead us to think not.

The Vikings could be without their starting two defensive tackles, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, for four games this year, a fact that is causing a mild stirring of fans to clamor for a trade for Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

But just because Haynesworth might be available in a trade doesn't mean he's worth it.

Haynesworth is one of the biggest names at the position because of a two-year ride with the Tennessee Titans at the end of his previous contract. He actually played seven years with the Titans, but only the final two – when he was coming to the end of a contract – can be considered dominant. Therein lies the risk with a deal for Haynesworth. Which player would the Vikings get: The one that didn't have more than three sacks in any of his first five years in the league or the one that finally lived up to his talents over his final two years in Tennessee?

Haynesworth's best season in the league out his eight years was – not surprisingly – his contract year with the Titans. He registered 51 tackles, one of only two seasons that he has had more than 40 tackles, and an impressive 8.5 sacks from the three-technique tackle spot. That's the same position that Kevin Williams plays.

Williams also had 8.5 sacks in 2008, but he has been far more of a consistent interior force than Haynesworth. Compare the numbers.

Since he entered the league in 2003, Williams has missed a grand total of two games. Hayneworth has missed at least two games every season since his second year in the league, 2003. While Williams had 23 sacks in his first two years in the league, Haynesworth had 9.5 total in his first five years in the league.

All of this isn't to say that Hayneworth isn't a good player, he just hasn't been consistent and now even his current teammates are calling him out for missing the offseason program in Washington, apparently because he doesn't want to play nose tackle as the Redskins make the switch to a 3-4 defense.

Haynesworth got the big contract and now it appears to be more about him than the team.

"There is no room for negotiation at 4-12," defensive end Phillip Daniels told The Washington Post about Haynesworth's absence, referring to the team's record last year. "I'm here, (London) Fletcher's here, everybody's here. He's got to understand that. We need him to come here, be here and show these young guys that the veterans have bought in and that we want to win games."

Haynesworth has been paid $32 million of the $41 million that is guaranteed in his contract, which has some Vikings fans wondering if he would be worth the trade. What isn't always told, however, is that he would still command some big numbers in the future.

His base salaries of $3.6 million, $5.4 million and $6.7 million over the next three years are palatable if he lives up to his All-Pro ways, but that second part of the equation is debatable. He's been All-Pro for two years … and otherwise inconsistent. Even worse, however, is that after his career moves into a dozen years in length, his contract calls for base salaries of $8.5 million in 2013, $10.3 million in 2014 and $11.5 million in 2015.

That's Jared Allen and Brett Favre country, and Haynesworth has been nowhere near the producer they have been.

Haynesworth wants to be traded, but new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said during the draft that he won't trade Haynesworth. Even more telling should be that his former team, the Tennessee Titans, apparently showed little interest in taking on his contract.

The Redskins took the risk on Haynesworth and spent about $35 million on him since free agency in 2009. He repaid them with 12 games played, 37 tackles, four sacks, criticism of former defensive coordinator Greg Bache and a stint where they sent him home for disciplinary reasons.

All that money couldn't buy production and it couldn't buy harmony either. Players still need heart and desire. Despite Daniels telling the Post that Hayneworth would be allowed to play defensive end if he doesn't want to play nose tackle, he has stayed away from practices.

So just where would the Vikings play him? They won't because a trade for Haynesworth doesn't make sense, even if he says he wants to play for the Vikings. More than likely he would say he wants to play for any team that runs a 4-3 defense where he can return to playing the three-technique. But moving Kevin Williams to nose or end doesn't make sense for the Vikings just to accommodate a player trying to find his happy place.

There is no question that Haynesworth has a big name and big potential. But when it comes to the Vikings, even if the Williams Wall is taken off the field for four games, wouldn't they be better off with Jimmy Kennedy, who produced 29 tackles and three sacks last year – in a part-time, backup role – than the headache and salary that Haynesworth carries?


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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