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One of the biggest free agency flops in NFL history came to an end Thursday when the Washington Redskins shipped Albert Haynesworth to the New England Patriots for a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, relatively meager compensation for a two-time All-Pro with one of the most lucrative contracts ever signed.
The trade was confirmed by a person familiar with the deal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither team had formally announced the trade.
The move rids the Redskins of a two-year distraction who did little to justify his standing on the field and was in constant legal trouble away from it. Haynesworth played in only 20 games in Washington, recording 61/2 sacks. Last year, he constantly feuded with new coach Mike Shanahan and was suspended for the final four games for conduct detrimental to the club.
The deal also completes the second half of a much-needed task for Shanahan in the compressed few days between the end of the NFL lockout and the start of training camp. The two big-name malcontents from last season — Donovan McNabb and Haynesworth — are gone, just in time for the players' official report date Thursday. The Redskins worked out a deal to trade McNabb on Wednesday, sending him to the Minnesota Vikings for a sixth-round draft pick in 2012 and a conditional sixth-round selection in 2013.
Haynesworth was guaranteed a then-record $41 million in the seven-year, $100 million contract he signed in the early hours of free agency in 2009. On the same day, he infamously declared: "You're not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust."
But he'll be chronicled as just that — the biggest free agency mistake in Dan Snyder's 12 years as Redskins owner, quite an achievement considering the money Snyder overspent on underachievers such as Deion Sanders and Adam Archuleta.
Now Haynesworth is headed to the Patriots to play for another controlling, Super Bowl-winning coach, Bill Belichick, who has a new reclamation project to undertake. Randy Moss and Corey Dillon are among the players who found new life in New England after their careers appeared on the wane.
"He'll see how we do things around here, point blank," New England defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said. "We had guys come through here with a rap sheet and (people) say he can't be handled, this guy can't do this and, you know what, it worked out fine for us. So I don't think it will be a big problem."
Haynesworth's problems accelerated when Shanahan was hired in early 2010, launching a battle of egos that never ceased. Haynesworth skipped offseason workouts because he didn't want to play nose tackle in the 3-4 defense the new coaches were installing, voicing instead his preference for a scheme that would showcase his talent and help achieve his goal of becoming "the best defense tackle to ever play this game." Shanahan told Haynesworth to go find another team, contingent upon giving up a $21 million contract bonus due on April 1.
Haynesworth kept the money and stayed on the roster. He boycotted a mandatory minicamp, drawing a $10,000 fine and the public ire of several teammates. He became a league-wide punch line when he needed 10 days to pass a conditioning test at the start of training camp, then lost his starting job and became a marginal role-player. He played in only eight games last year before Shanahan suspended him with four games to play, citing a litany of issues that amounted to insubordination.
Meanwhile, Haynesworth's legal problems kept piling up. At one point last summer he was juggling as many four court-related matters at the same time, including lawsuits from a bank, an exotic dancer, a man injured in an automobile accident, and complaints from his ex-wife that he wasn't paying her health insurance or their children's bills.
In May, Haynesworth reached an out-of-court settlement after being accused of a road-rage attack in Virginia. He still has pending a misdemeanor sexual abuse charge, stemming from an accusation that he fondled a waitress at a hotel bar in Washington. He has pleaded not guilty, and the case is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 23.
But at least his football future now lies in another city. The Patriots aren't expected to announce the trade before Friday, subject to a physical and conditioning test.
Of course, last year Haynesworth's conditioning test turned into its own soap opera.
"Obviously, from the outside looking in you can see that Albert wasn't really happy in his situation," New England defensive end Ty Warren said. "And, really, at the same time all you see is what goes on on the outside and sometimes that's only half of the truth. So I don't think (his arrival) is going to be a problem, with the structure of this locker room, the guys that's in this locker room."
This program aired on July 28, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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