The New England Patriots took just half a season to decide they didn’t need Albert Haynesworth.
Two days after he sat out most of the second half against the New York Giants, the Patriots released the defensive lineman they obtained after his rocky two-year stay with the Washington Redskins.
In six games with the Patriots, Haynesworth had just six tackles and no sacks. His last play came in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Giants when left guard David Diehl blocked him to clear the way for Brandon Jacobs’ 10-yard touchdown run with 9:10 left in the third quarter.
”We had a lot of defensive linemen active and so they played in different rotations,” coach Bill Belichick said Monday. ”Vince (Wilfork) is a guy, obviously, that we don’t want off the field, but the rest of those guys, they can’t all play. One guy plays for a while and then somebody else plays and they rotate.”
Belichick didn’t mention Haynesworth during his regular Tuesday conference call. About 4 1/2 hours later, the team announced Haynesworth’s release. The Boston Herald first reported the news.
On the Giants’ first series of the second half, the 350-pound Haynesworth made some good plays early but got dominated on others. Then, on the sideline after Jacobs’ touchdown run, he and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson had an animated discussion.
”Whatever we talk about as a team during the game or in meetings and all that, it’s between the players and the coaches,” Belichick said Monday.
The Patriots are 5-3, tied for first in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, and have been ranked last in the NFL in defense most of the season.
They still have another underachieving high-profile acquisition, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. They obtained the six-time Pro Bowl player from the Cincinnati Bengals the same day they acquired Haynesworth.
Ochocinco has just nine catches for 136 yards and no touchdowns, but Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien have praised him.
Haynesworth, who missed two games this season with a back injury, wasn’t involved in any public troubles with New England, unlike his two-year stay in Washington.
”He’ll see how we do things around here,” Wilfork said when the trade was made. ”I don’t think it will be a big problem.”
After signing a seven-year, $100 million free-agent contract with the Redskins after the 2008 season, Haynesworth feuded with new coach Mike Shanahan in 2010. He skipped offseason workouts because he didn’t want to play nose tackle in the 3-4 defensive alignment Shanahan was installing.
Then it took him 10 days to pass his conditioning test. He lost his starting job and played in just eight games before Shanahan suspended him for the final four because of conduct detrimental to the club.
The Patriots obtained Haynesworth on July 28 for a fifth-round draft choice in 2013.
”Albert has worked hard. I think that it’s coming,” Belichick said after Haynesworth’s first practice with the Patriots. ”We’ve got a long way to go, so just take it day-by-day, but I think he’s doing fine.”
Four days before the season-opening 38-24 win over the Miami Dolphins, Haynesworth was upbeat.
”I didn’t do much in D.C. The scheme didn’t fit me,” he said. ”Now I can go out there and play and I can get back to what I used to do.”
And last Wednesday he said, ”I want to do everything better. I’d like to rush the passer and get after the quarterback more. Instead of just getting the pressures, I want to get the sacks.”
But he was a backup in all six games he played.
The Patriots have good depth on the defensive line with Wilfork, Andre Carter, Shaun Ellis, Mark Anderson, Gerard Warren and Kyle Love. They also recently activated two defensive linemen from the physically unable to perform list, Brandon Deaderick, who has played two games, and Ron Brace, who has played one.
Deaderick ”did a nice job in the running game, used his hands well, played with good technique,” Belichick said Monday.
In other moves Tuesday, the Patriots signed wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, cut tight end Dan Gronkowski and released offensive lineman Thomas Welch from the practice squad.
The Patriots originally signed Underwood on Aug. 29 after he spent two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars but released him five days later. Gronkowski had no catches in five games this season. Welch played in three games for the Patriots this year.