Is Big Al Worth The Risk?

Posted: May 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 32 Comments »

Albert Haynesworth is going to be cut or traded when the offseason gets underway.  He’s had a miserable 2-year stay in Washington and coach Mike Shanahan doesn’t need another summer of useless drama between the two of them.

I still believe very strongly that Big Al can be a dominant defensive player.  He was outstanding last year against the Bears and showed his talent didn’t go away.  Will the Eagles have any interest in Big Al?  Should they?

Haynesworth failed in D.C. partly due to the Skins and partly due to himself.  Let’s go back to his time with the Titans for a second.  In 2007 and 2008 Big Al became the most dominant defensive player in the NFL.  In ’07 Al had 6 sacks, 8 TFLs, 4 pass deflections, and 32 solo tackles.  In ’08 he had 8.5 sacks, 7 TFLs, 3 FFs, 2 pass deflections, and 41 solo tackles.  Those numbers don’t do him justice.  Al was double and triple teamed.  Offenses had to account for him all game long.  The Titans responded by moving him around.  Sometimes he was the Nose Tackle.  Other times he was the Under Tackle.  He played DE and was able to pressure the QB off the edge.  Big Al was able to help the Titans finish up high in points and yards allowed both seasons.

The Skins lured him to D.C. with the biggest contract for a defensive player in the history of the NFL.  They told him he’d be allowed to attack upfield and do his thing just like he did in Tennessee.  Apparently Defensive Coordinator Greg Blache wasn’t present at that meeting.  Blache had other ideas for how to use Big Al.  He didn’t let Al just fire upfield on a regular basis.  He was more conservative in how he used his DTs and also wasn’t as creative at moving Al around.  Big Al had an okay year, but was definitely a disappointment.

Along came Shanny in the 2010 offseason.  He had the brilliant idea to take a good 4-3 defense and change it to a 3-4, despite not having the proper personnel.  Big Al was projected to be the NT.  Oops.  That didn’t go so well.  Big Al wanted no part of being a 3-4 NT.  That calls for a player to basically occupy blockers so the LBs can go make plays.  Al and Shanny began a personal war that lasted all year long.  Al only played in 8 games and was just a role player.  He still had some great moments (see the CHI game), but the season was largely wasted.

The Skins fault in all of this is going and getting a player who expected to be used in a certain way and then having him do other things.  Like it or not, star players need to be treated in a certain way.  You need to use them so that they can play at their best.  I still think Shanny made one of the worst decisions of the last decade by forcing the 3-4 onto the team.  The Skins have been tough on defense for the last several years.  Why change a good thing?

Big Al is at fault for not handling the situation like a professional.  The Skins pissed him off with the way they used him, but he was still making mega-bucks.  Gripe to the coaches behind closed doors, but don’t go public with every dissenting opinion and never give less than 100% effort.  Al definitely looked like a jackass with the way he acted over the last 2 years.

Normally I would have no interest in a guy like Big Al.  He’s turning 30 this summer.  He’s an inconsistent player.  He can be a headache in the locker room and in general.  But…I’m open to adding Big Al for a couple of reasons.  Jim Washburn, our new DL coach, is the man who got Al to play at such a high level in Tennessee.  Those two got along really well.  Washburn was able to teach and motivate Al.  I have to think that coming to Philly and getting back into the scheme that allowed him to flourish and playing for his old coach would bring out the best in Al.  And you know he’d want to crush the Skins twice a year.

The second factor is that we simply don’t have anyone who is physically dominant up front.  I love Trent Cole to death, but he’s an effort player with some talent and athletic ability.  Trent will never overwhelm the blocker in front of him due to sheer size/strength.  Big Al has that ability.  I don’t think a defense must have that guy, but boy would it be nice.

Think about opposing offenses as they broke the huddle.  They’d have to find Big Al and figure out who was blocking him.  He might be the NT, UT, or LDE.  How’d you like to have him at LDE with Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon on the inside on running downs?  Big Al isn’t just a playmaker.  At his best with the Titans, he made the players around him even better.  I bet Trent Cole would love the chance to play with a guy like Al.

The Eagles didn’t address DT at all in the draft.  This could mean they are comfortable with the 4 guys already in place.  Or it could mean they want to go get a player via free agency or trade.  You know that Washburn has already talked to Andy Reid and Howie Roseman about Al.  The question is whether he gave him a thumbs up or down.

The x-factors in this are money and off-field issues.  I would not give Big Al a big deal.  No way.  I don’t trust him like that.  He needs to show he can get his head back on straight.  Al got in trouble for allegedly punching another driver in some kind of traffic altercation.  He also is in legal trouble for inappropriately touching a waitress.  He’s had plenty of issues in the past.  Al isn’t a guy you will nominate for man of the year anytime soon.

I would be fine with the Eagles going after Big Al, assuming he’s not given a big contract.  What about you guys?  Is he too much of a turd or is Al a risk you’re willing to take?

32 Comments on “Is Big Al Worth The Risk?”

  1. 1 Mr_Boomy said at 12:36 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    At the right price, hell yeah!
    He’d be a force up front and will make the entire defense better.

    But I’ve never seen Reid signing this kind of player before, did he?

  2. 2 Anirudh said at 12:40 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    To me, it’s the same type of acquisition as TO in ’04. If we had to do it all over again, I’d still do it – it took us to the Super Bowl in that first year and I think it’s worth the risk.

    Kind of a stupid question but what are the chances we sign BOTH Asomugha and Haynesworth in the offseason? 1% ? 3%?

  3. 3 Stephen said at 12:42 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Frankly Al is kind of a turd, but Vick isn’t an angel himself and we signed him.

    I wouldn’t trust Al at all even if we did get him. Between the face stomping incident and some of the other stuff he’s been getting in trouble for, this is a man who is not making good decisions and I doubt that would change.

  4. 4 McG said at 12:45 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    The logical choice seems to be letting this decision rest with input from Jim Washburn and Roseman. The most important factor is: will he make a difference. From a fan’s perspective I’m inclined to say yes, he probably can. The next factor is the price tag. Let’s say hypothetically that Bunkley takes Washburns system and turns into the threat he should have been all along… isn’t he up for a new contract in the near future? I’m not sure how much money can be tied up in DTs (although I’m not opposed to the thought of having two dynamic attacking DTs on the field with trent cole hunting the edges).

    Conclusion: agreement with Boomy. At the right price, why wouldn’t you want to see him in training camp and pre-season?

  5. 5 Anirudh said at 12:47 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Just to add a tiny bit of justification to that – Haynesworth is not going to be the hot asset that Asomugha is. Sure, there’ll always be teams interested, but I think everyone knows he won’t command top dollar (even Haynesworth himself) and you have to think that he has huge appreciation for Washburn given what he was able to do under Wash in Tennessee. I think he’d love to come to Philly, knowing that he’s got Trent Cole on the other end, he’d have Jim Washburn coaching him in a 4-3, he’s got the President in the secondary and he’d be playing with Michael Vick and an incredibly dynamic offense.

  6. 6 Jriv787 said at 12:52 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Give him one of them contracts based on goals that he has to reach and then put some type of clause where if he gets in trouble off the field of becomes disruptive to the team the eagles can cut him at any time without owning him a cent

  7. 7 Thunderlips said at 12:58 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    We have a team mostly comprised of high-character guys. Vick is no saint, but it seems like he’s turned his life around. Desean is a goofball, but I don’t think anyone questions his dedication. Seems like we can afford to add a knuckle-head to the team with the guys we have in place.

  8. 8 Mr_Boomy said at 1:04 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Having this kind of interesting discussion makes me hate the lockout even more…

    So we gotta hope the Skins cut him. And hope Reid would be interested in him cause I’m pretty sure he wants to play for our D. Given that we have Jim Washburn and some big names like Trent Cole and Asante. And like Tommy pointed out, getting to play the Skins twice a year! What a dream here.

    Also he could be interested in playing on the same team with Vick since he enjoyed watching Vick dancing around making plays while he was lying on the turf.

    I see this deal completely different from the T.O. ‘s signing back in 2004. T.O. didn’t have legal issues off the field. And aside from Vick, I don’t think Reid ever signed this kind of player.

  9. 9 Davesbeard said at 1:05 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Like Jriv787 said a performance bonus based contract for the first years with the option to ramp it up into a decent contact for subsequent years would probably be ideal from an eagles point of view. It would have the potential to transform our D-line with a single piece.

    I’d much rather spend the money on Asomugha and Babin though.

    Then again Babin, Haynesworth and a mid tier corner might be a good way to go…

  10. 10 The Reddgie said at 1:11 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Tommy, great post!

    If I could trade Patterson for a decent mid round pick (probable), If I have an UDFA DT whom I believe I can bring in and grow into a contributor in the near future (highly probable) AND If I can sign Big Al to a reasonable, incentive laden contract (somewhat questionable), then I would absolutely bring him in.

    At worst, he can’t return to his form at Tenn under Washburn and we cut him but still have Dixon, Bunk and Laws as our DT rotation (which admittedly, would be a little light, but this regime always seems to find a DT that can be plugged in for a few snaps). At best, he returns to form and our D Line is vastly improved, improving the overall Defense as well, and gives opposing OCs someone other than Cole that they have to worry about and gameplan for.

    This is as close to a No Lose situation as it gets, assuming we can get him under the 3 conditions I posted above.

  11. 11 Tommy Lawlor said at 1:27 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Part of the reason you build such a strong locker room is so that you can take the occasional chance on a guy like Big Al. There’s no question that he’s got issues, but in the right setting you hope you can bring out the best in him.

    I’m not sure how going after Big Al would affect any plans for guys like Babin, Nnamdi, or whoever else we have targeted. We’re projected to have a low payroll next year so money shouldn’t be an issue. Plus, we’re not paying Al like the Skins did.

    I wonder if he’d come here on a 1-year deal to see if he can rebuild his reputation and then go for another big deal in 2012. That might work best for all parties involved.

  12. 12 Name said at 1:54 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    To your point about drafting high character guys, I’m no lockerroom chemist, but it seems to me if you have a lot of high character guys, you can take a chance on a guy like Big Al. If I were the FO, I’d simply ask Washburn to interview with him. If he gives the thumbs up, spend the money to get him, it’s that simple.

  13. 13 fran35 said at 1:59 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    I think Al would be worth the risk–at the right price.

    You made a comment about Babin. I just don’t see it. The guy is going to command top dollar coming off of 12.5 sacks. If we weren’t willing to resign him to an average salary before last year, do you think we pay top $ now? I don’t think he is worth it.

  14. 14 Dan in Philly said at 1:59 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Name = me. Not saving my ID, and I keep forgetting to check and retype it 🙁

  15. 15 izzylangfan said at 2:34 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    I’m pretty sure Washington will not be able to trade Haynesworth. Thus they are going to try and screw him as much as they can by releasing him at the very last moment. The Eagles will thus have to plan their DL without him as will all the other teams. Getting him at a low price for one year would thus seem a good possibility since at that late date there shouldn’t be much cash available. Still the Eagles shouldn’t want to give him a lot of money and there is a good chance some team will muster up a more significant package. We need to hope he wants revenge. And unless we can dump him in an eyeblink and not be negatively impacted, I wouldn’t take him either.

  16. 16 Tommy Lawlor said at 2:41 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    RE: Babin

    He wasn’t an ideal fit for the old system, but is for the new system. That’s why we’d be interested.

    Will we go after him? I have no idea. Fans love to talk about him as a target, probably because he said so many good things about Washburn. I’d be fine with adding him.

  17. 17 izzylangfan said at 2:50 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Forgot to mention. Two years ago I thought Jim Zorn was the best thing that could happen to the Eagles. But I didn’t know as some of my friends have since told me that Shanahan is the last of the big time hard asses. First Haynesworth and then McNabb. How cool is that. Jerry Jones also did a good job for us as Dallas’ GM. Its just too bad the Giants seem to be so well run.

  18. 18 Adam S. said at 3:05 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    I flip-flop all the time on this very subject. Last night I was talking with a Bucs friend of mine about it. I wasn’t too keen on it last night because the guy is a dumbass. my first thoughts on him are the stomp on Gurode, which I can’t believe wasn’t a bigger deal it was obviously intentional. and watching his lazy ass lay on the ground while Vick dances around and throws the TD.

    But then when I step back from that and look at his play in Tenn and it’s hard not to be excited about the prospect of him here. It’s obvious if he is motivated that he instantly upgrades this D. Cole would be pumped I’m sure.

    Like others have said I would put the decision almost solely in Washburn’s hands. If Reid is willing and Howie gives the green light, have Washburn meet with him and decide.

    Damn it you/I just changed my mind again……..

  19. 19 mcud said at 4:56 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Absolutely. You sign him to a one or two year deal when he is cut. What’s funny is that we probably could have had him last year if we had asked for him instead of the conditional pick in the McNabb deal. I’m even okay with trading a conditional pick for him. His contract basically ends after 2011 (scheduled to make 5.4 mil this year), though he may request a renegotiation (fine, AFTER 2011).

    The conditions you noted (back to a 4-3, back to playing under Washburn, getting to play Washington twice a year) work in our favor in another way: If Albert DOESN’T have a dominant season(s) under those conditions, then the league and public will know that he’s simply not the same player any more. Albert has to know that. Very few players ever get to be the “best”. Albert was the best defensive player on the planet a couple of years ago. I’ve got to think he wants that feeling again. Philly is the best spot for that.

    Finally, the fact that we’re already a playoff contender has to help us. Albert was brought to Washington to restore glory, not to maintain it. That responsibility and contract brings an enormous amount of pressure to even a high character player, much less a guy with some social issues like Haynesworth. Deion Sanders wasn’t quite the player he used to be when he left the 49ers for the Cowboys, but he was the missing piece in bringing that team back to the top of the NFL, rather than just being a contender. Al can have that kind of impact for us, be it at DT or LDE.

    So, yeah. I’m on board.

  20. 20 ChaosOnion said at 5:05 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    I inverted the question and thought about who else might be interested in Big Al. DAL is a 3-4, but NYG runs a 4-3 and I do not want him playing there. His talent in as 4-3 a attacking DT, Washburn as the D-line coach and preventing him playing against the Eagles considered together outweigh any locker room concerns I have. Sign me up, 2 years full of performance bonuses!

  21. 21 Mike said at 5:23 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    I feel the same way about Big Al as I did about Jimmy Smith, if they sign Hanesworth I’ll be happy and if they pass I won’t be upset.

    I assume the FO will do their homework and if they feel comfortable with signing him then so will I. They obviously have the resources to research and evaluate what the right move is on this one. If they pass they just weren’t comfortable with his baggage, which could be the right call.

    The only thing that would be upsetting is if they go after him and he signs elsewhere, but I doubt that would happen because of his relationship with Coach Washburn. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a modest deal to play here since he’ll still be all that guarenteed money from Washington.

  22. 22 ATG said at 9:21 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    Like mcud above, I like the idea of trading for him better than signing him once he is cut. It eliminates the chance for a desperate team to overpay him, and if everyone knows he isn’t going to play in DC this year it won’t take much to pry him away so Shanny can save face. (Ha, save face, face stomping, rat faced… there is a joke in there somewhere.) If only we had some miscast 3-4 linebacker left to offer.

    I agree with the whys mcud listed as well. He covered all my thoughts, and then some.

  23. 23 norman said at 11:53 PM on May 18th, 2011:

    lol @ save face

    I think we all agree.. if Al wants to play for $0.29 and a scooby snack you sign the man. But someone else had the right idea: other teams are gonna think they can reform him too.

    Question is: does Philly outbid any of said teams? (No)

    Does Haynesworth take any kind of discount to play with a chamionship calibre team? (Doubtful)

    Does Philly need another DT? (I don’t think so either).

    I stand pat, bring in some UDFA’s and let Roseman trade a 6th roundpick for more depth.

  24. 24 MikeC said at 10:09 AM on May 19th, 2011:

    No, no, no please God no. Albert Haynesworth is not just a bad character guy, he sets a new standard for douche bag. This guy has a history of violent altercations on and off the field that go back to at least hi s college days. At one point in college he got so mad at a teammate, that he left and got a pole to beat the guy with – this is a teammate. We all know about the stomping of Andre Grode but let’s not forget how violent that actually was. He ripped the dude’s helmet off and stomped on his head with cleats. That’s brutal and cannot be justified in any light. His litany of transgressions in DC – after they wrote him a $135 million dollar check – is too long to list. What concerns me the most is the most recent two transgressions. These both happened this summer so they give a pretty solid picture of who he is right now. He is accused of reaching-up and fondling a waitress’ breast in a restaurant when he paid her. Is this something any of you would actually do outside of a strip club – or even at one? Do any of you have daughters? That is a guy out of control. In the second incident, he beat-up a regular dude who cut him off on the Capital Beltway. I’m not sure if any readers here are familiar with I-495 around Washington but it is basically a large free for all racetrack. People drive like assholes. That is just life. If a NFL player feels like he can beat someone up for driving like everyone else, I’ve got problems with that. There is no way I want anything to do with this guy. He has no conscience, believes that rules do not apply to him, clearly has violent anger/temper issues that are not resolved and is in no way a team player. Why would we want this guy on the field with a game on the line? He is that yellow flag that will make you pull your hair out and negate the first down that wins the game. He is that off the field distraction in the playoffs that Bill Belichick posts all over the locker room and ESPN covers 24/7 all week before the game. No way we want this guy – no way.

  25. 25 Irish Iggle said at 10:34 AM on May 19th, 2011:

    So, are u saying u don’t want him Mike?

  26. 26 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:23 AM on May 19th, 2011:

    @ Mike…

    Compelling argument. He is a “less than awesome” person to be sure. That’s the only reason any of us are hesitant in wanting the guy.

    I’m willing to take a chance on him, but I would let him know up front that he’s one mistake from getting cut.

    The Eagles will do their research to find out whether Big Al has lost it and completely gone rogue or if the incidents aren’t as bad as they sound. The waitress story was a bit fishy based on the description we got in the media. If that was wrong and he truly did grope her, that might change things.

    The Eagles wouldn’t sign a guy like Big Al without thoroughly checking on him and deciding it was a wise risk/reward situation. Plus, we wouldn’t be giving him huge $ so we could cut him should he do something wrong.

    Kudos for making a good counter-argument. I want Big Al’s ability on the team, but I do have a hard time getting comfortable with his personality and behavior.

  27. 27 Ryan said at 12:37 PM on May 19th, 2011:

    He is also a notoriously poor tipper (I live 5 mins from Redskins Park in VA).

    I heard on the radio last week was that the waitress made up the story because she was pissed that Big Al left a 10% tip. He also never left a tip at one of my favorite bars after drinking all night.

    I am torn on the issue. Signing the Big Al from Tenn. could do wonders for this Defense (seriously, i don’t think we would even need CBs). Seeing Big Al every week down here for the past two years scares me. Every week the #1 story was how Big Al could only play two snaps before getting winded and having to coming out of the game…he was out of shape, sloppy, and always causing problems.

  28. 28 Wellhelloitsdan said at 1:12 PM on May 19th, 2011:

    Has anyone considered Haynesworth’s potential impact on Brandon Graham’s development? Having Big Al might take the pressure off of Graham to come back as quickly as possible, and allow him more breathing room to make sure he’s truly 100% before getting back on to the field.

    If Haynesworth played to his potential, it would also give Graham a great example to learn from. People talk about how quarterbacks benefit from some time on the bench, learning the system and acclimating to the pro game. Perhaps that would be beneficial for other positions as well…I know he already has a year in the system, but I think I’ve read that players usually take about 3 years before the light really goes on.

    Plus, if Big Al was only signed to a 1-year deal, you could probably assume the Eagles wouldn’t resign him…so it’s not like they would have to make a tough call on who to play at which position. They’d basically be buying Graham a year to heal, and to learn.

  29. 29 Matt Gr said at 1:27 PM on May 19th, 2011:

    Like most others have said, if the price is right it is a no brainer. Guy is a game changer if he can keep his head on his shoulders.

  30. 30 thatguyben said at 12:05 PM on May 20th, 2011:

    Thanks to commenter MikeC for pointing this post out to me, here is Curly R’s profile of Albert Hanynesworth as of the 2009 signing, we all kind of know how the last two seasons played out:

    The dude is a bad guy.

  31. 31 D3Keith said at 8:50 PM on May 21st, 2011:

    Allow me to join the chorus. It could be another in a long line of shrewd moves from the FO.

    It would not only be low-risk from the money standpoint if we did it, but we have four DTs already that should make the roster and could potentially excel. Haynesworth is a complete luxury, so on top of knowing he’s salvaging his rep, doesn’t need to carry the team, gets to play with Washburn again and have fun winning … he also can do all that going hard for about 30 snaps a game. And knowing that without him, we’d survive.

    Then again, the four DTs might be a reason he doesn’t want in. But we basically could use him to wreak havoc like he wants to, like Washburn can get him to, and then let him catch his breath while Laws, Patt, Bunk and Dixon, or whoever amongst them is here, play.

  32. 32 Bingo Gazingo said at 8:29 AM on May 24th, 2011:

    I doubt he comes to the Eagles. Just doesn’t fit what they do. Totally different situation than Vick–as in perceived character risk player. Haynesworth seems in no way humbled or apologetic about his behavior. He seems angry, ornery and still stubborn. You are going to inject that into a locker room of mostly very young–albeit high character–guys and a 1st time ever defensive coordinator?

    He’s got the history with Washburn, and seems to enjoy a defensive minded martinet that is willing to use him creatively–which makes me think a place like New England, playing for the no-nonsense Belichick is a more likely destination. They need a passrusher so Wilfork can go back to manning the nose, and they have a pretty good track record with character-concern mid-career vets resurrecting their careers. Sure it’s a 3-4, but Richard Seymour rushed the QB very effectively from that spot in their system, and Haynesworth has ample length to play the spot.

    Either that, or he goes to the highest bidder–a team like Oakland or Broncos or Jaguars. In that case, I think it will be clear he just wants one more payday to pad his personal cheesecake endowment, and I won’t be upset if the Eagles steer as far away as they can.