Originally posted on The Stowaway  |  Last updated 2/4/12
By the time Week 9 of the 2011 NFL season was in the books (a Tampa Bay loss at New Orleans), the Buccaneers were up against an interior defense thinned by the loss of DT Gerald McCoy.  General Manager Mark Dominik elected to claim from waivers a player he had been seeking since ascending to the top spot in 2009: Albert Haynesworth.  In fact, Dominik outbid the team Haynesworth signed with that year but the All-Pro defensive tackle went elsewhere.  By Week 9 of 2011, Haynesworth was back on the waiver wire after disappointing stints in Washington and New England.  This time, Dominik was alone in the quest for Haynesworth and brought him to Tampa Bay.  Now Dominik has to decide if he wants to keep Albert Haynesworth on his roster.

Upon arriving, Tampa Bay immediately gave Haynesworth his first start since the 2009 season.  Of the remaining eight games in 2011, Haynesworth played in seven and started six, recording 18 tackles and 2 assists (no sacks) which surpassed his output with the Redskins in 2010 and with the Patriots for the first half of 2011 combined. He did miss the week 16 game completely and did not start for the final game of the season.  From an output perspective, Haynesworth appeared to step up for Dominik and Tampa Bay.  A odd tidbit to consider: after the waiver wire Tampa Bay did not win a game with Haynesworth, while the Patriots did not lose a game without Haynesworth.

One drawback to signing Haynesworth up for additional service is the number of draft picks the Buccaneers have used on the defensive interior recently (three since 2009). All three have been productive players, along with free agent pickups John McCargo and Frank Okam:


Total Solo Asst Sacks 2011 Games Roy Miller 36 20 16 0 16 Brian Price 24 20 4 3 15 Albert Haynesworth 20 18 2 0 7 Frank Okam 16 15 1 0 9 Gerald McCoy 11 10 1 1 6 John McCargo 5 3 2 0 4

This brings us to the first Big IF for resigning Haynesworth:  IF his production over the seven games he played in can be sustained over a 16 game season, he would record around 45 tackles, which would make him one of the 10 most productive Defensive Tackles in the NFL (based on league-wide stats for 2011). On the other hand, Tampa Bay is in the middle of rebuilding their team from the ground up, so every snap taken by Haynesworth is a snap lost by one of the young players.  Should Tampa Bay keep Haynesworth and bring the youngsters along more slowly?  Or is it likely that Haynesworth, having spent 10 seasons in the middle of trenches, cannot be highly productive over a 16 game season?

The second Big IF is Haynesworth's cost to the team.  The league minimum for a player with 10+ years experience in 2012 is $925,000.  That's not much more than the $700K or so the Buccaneers paid for half a year's service this year.  Would Haynesworth be willing to go year-to-year?  If not, how long?  And what price would he demand? And what expense to the salary cap can the team afford, with Josh Freeman, Roy Miller, and others coming up for contract renewal next year?

These are the decisions which try the soul of the NFL GM, and Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik has a lot to consider, particularly with a new coaching staff.

In the end, I do not see a roster spot available this fall for Haynesworth.  He could surprise everyone and show up to OTAs 30-40 pounds slimmer and agree to play for reasonable to discounted price but I doubt it.  A man with his career can leave the game with his head high, and I suspect that's just what Albert Haynesworth will do.
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