7 points: Haynesworth can't carry his weight
Point No. 1: Forget about Daniel Snyder and Mike Shanahan. Albert Haynesworth is the biggest loser in Washington.
I thought the Redskins owner was nuts last year when he agreed to make Haynesworth a $100-million man to lure the inconsistent free agent to Washington. At minimum, Snyder was guilty of poor judgment, and it's now costing him millions of dollars while also saddling his new head coach, Mike Shanahan, with a self-centered malcontent who isn't showing up for work.
Since cashing a $21 million check that he received in April, Haynesworth has opted to skip voluntary team activities, which is his right. But he's also missed mandatory workouts, and he doesn't plan to show his face until training camp — even though his teammates have been hard at work learning a new playbook and scheme with a new coaching staff.
Haynesworth is unhappy about the team's switch to a 3-4 defense that will force him to move to the nose tackle position. Since his primary responsibility in that scheme will be to eat up space in the middle, drawing a healthy helping of double-teams so that the inside linebackers can make tackles, Haynesworth undoubtedly realizes that he's not going to log the level of tackles and sacks numbers that helped him land a $100 million contract. And quite honestly, playing nose tackle requires a lot of fortitude and a grind-it-out, selfless mentality that Haynesworth just doesn't appear to have.
Or maybe the 6-foot-6, 350-pound defensive lineman is just afraid that he can't make the transition successfully and regain his status as a one of the league's dominant defensive players. And if that's what's driving Haynesworth's public pouting, then he's acting from a position of cowardice.
Meanwhile, Haynesworth is letting his teammates down. And many of them have been outspoken about the situation, saying that he's turned his back on them, is selfish and can't be depended upon.
If Haynesworth is truly worth the big money — and still as grateful as he claimed to be a year ago when he signed that fat contract — he'd embrace whatever role the team asked of him. But evidently, Albert Haynesworth only wants to play defensive tackle for $100 million his way. In other words, he wants to be a specialist on the interior line, not a versatile defensive lineman who has the confidence and skills to shift his point of attack for the good of the team. And if that's the case, then Haynesworth should be compensated accordingly, maybe in the same range as a kicker or a punter.
Daniel Snyder hasn't seen much return on the millions that he's handed over to Haynesworth yet, but as he's shown in the past, Snyder can make more money and hire other players. Meanwhile, by clinging to an indefensible and self-centered stance that makes him look like an overgrown child, Haynesworth has identified himself as a high-risk signing and headache for any NFL club, doing immeasurable damage to his reputation and value.
The defensive tackle is guaranteed $42 million under his current contract, but he's going to learn that the money can't buy back the respect that he's lost over the past few months.
And that Albert Haynesworth — the man who vowed that he wouldn't be a bust in Washington — the biggest loser.
Point No. 2: Just five NFL teams achieved the 10/14 feat last season.
When your club wins at least ten of their contests by fourteen points or more in a season, its obvious that you've established a solid foundation that should help propel you into the playoff hunt again unless you've taken some major talent hits through free agency or injuries.
Last year, the Packers' 18.27 average margin of victory during their 11 regular-season wins was the best in the NFL among the nine teams who posted double-digit victories. But among the five teams that logged an average margin of victory of 14 points or more, the Saints posted a league-best 13 wins (14.77 points).
I'm optimistic that the Packers, Saints and Vikings will return to the playoffs this season, but offseason changes have placed the Patriots and the Eagles in a marginal situation for the 2010 sesason.
Point No. 3: It blows my mind that someone who has earned over $50 million can end up filing for bankruptcy.
Multiple reports indicated that veteran quarterback Mark Brunell was planning to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last Friday after earning roughly $52 million during his 10-year career.
Think about that for a moment. That means the longtime journeyman quarterback is likely in debt for more than he can cover, putting him in worse financial straights than many people who don't have a prayer of making that kind of money during their entire lifetime.
Brunell reportedly co-signed for failed real estate and business loans, which could indicate that he's been influenced to make investments by others close to him who gave him bad advice. But the debt numbers that are being floated as the cause for the bankruptcy are less than $4 million, and if that's an accurate reflection of the situation, that means that Brunell may have squandered an average of $4.8 million per year since entering the league.
I'm not sure how anyone does that. Do you?
In any case, Brunell has cast himself as another classic example of a player who has mismanaged his fortune, and that's a shame. He still hopes to sign on with an NFL team before the start of training camp, but in light of his financial woes, that's now more of a necessity than a luxury.
Point No. 4: Carolina's Steve Smith will respond to the pressure.
There's a part of me that applauds the fact that the Panthers veteran hasn't lost his child-like passion for playing the game of football. After all, why else would he play flag football during the offseason with a bunch of guys who would undoubtedly like to prove that they can matchup with one of the top players in the NFL?
But Smith overlooked the danger of playing the game he loves with a bunch of weekend warriors, breaking his arm during a recent game. He revealed during an interview with the NFL Network's Rich Eisen that he now has two plates and 20 screws in his arm.
As a result, the veteran wide receiver is likely to miss the team's training camp and preseason, but hopes to be ready for the start of the regular season. But if he doesn't regain full strength in the arm by then, at date, he may have trouble getting free against press coverage. And the Panthers can't afford that limitation.
With Matt Moore entering his first full season as the team's incumbent starter and a wide receiver depth chart that is filled with little more than unproven potential, Smith working at less than 100 percent could put the Panthers in an early hole that might dash their slim hopes of a playoff spot..
But knowing Smith's fiery competitive nature, don't count him out. He'll be working hard to make sure that his offseason error in judgment doesn't impact his team's win-loss record this season.
Point No. 5: The Ravens have been busy. And I like it.
Baltimore recently added three veterans to their roster who could be counted on to play key roles in their 2011 success. And I like all three of the moves.
With future Hall of Famer Ed Reed experiencing a slow recovery from offseason reconstructive hip surgery, the Ravens signed former Cowboys safety Ken Hamlin. He'll compete with Tom Zbikowski for the starting free safety position if Reed isn't ready for the team's season-opener against the
The Ravens' cornerback situation is arguably their weakest link on the defensive side of the ball, so they recently added veteran Walt Harris to the mix. With plenty of young talent attempting to nail down a starter's role, the 14th-year veteran will not only compete for one of those jobs but will also serve as a valuable mentor to the younger quarterbacks. Although he's coming off a major ACL injury that he sustained last summer, reports out of Baltimore indicate that the team has been impressed by his mobility and speed. Harris has started in 173 NFL games and has averaged five interceptions per year during his last three full NFL seasons.
This past week, the Ravens added veteran Marc Bulger to the quarterback depth chart, likely signaling the end of the line for Troy Smith. Baltimore also has former Dolphins and BYU quarterback John Beck on the roster.
The addition of Bulger not only gives the team improved talent depth at the position, but also provides Flacco with an experienced mentor during practices and game preparation who can provide him with a perspective that's been lacking during his first two seasons in the league.
Point No. 6: I was glad to see the Patriots reward Gary Guyton with a contract extension.
The young linebacker agreed to a two-year contract extension that will carry him through the 2011 season, a just reward for an individual who exemplifies all the good traits you look for in an NFL player.
The former Georgia Tech defender was a surprising snub during the 2008 NFL Draft after earning a Senior Bowl appearance, but was quickly snatched up as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots. By the end of the 2009 season, the reliable, mature and hard-working player had started in every contest at inside linebacker. He logged 85 tackles, 1.5 sacks and defensed three passes.
I met Guyton face-to-face for the first time after a Senior Bowl practice. He had stood out with his range and pass protection skills. When I told him that I'd like to ask him a few questions, he appeared to be both surprised and humbled — a reaction you don't often get from athletes at that level. He answered my questions with poise and thoughtfulness, leaving a very positive and lasting impression.
It was readily apparent to me that Guyton was going to handle the transition to the NFL with no problem at all. And while I'm not always right with those hunches, I'm glad that I was on the mark with this one, because he deserves it.
If you haven't noticed Guyton yet, be sure to watch for him during the 2011 season. He's one of the good guys in this league that you should be pulling for.
Point No. 7: Joe Horn had a great run in New Orleans, so it's fitting that he will be retiring as a Saint.
After spending seven of his 12 NFL seasons in New Orleans, the talented wide receiver signed a one-day contract so that he could officially end his career with the Saints.
Horn hasn't played since the 2007 season when he suited up for the Atlanta Falcons, but during his career he started 114 games, caught 603 passes for 8,744 yards and 58 touchdowns. He scored 50 of those touchdowns for the Saints, the third-best mark all-time for the franchise.
"Since he first arrived here in 2000, Joe made a significant impact on our team both on and off the field," Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement released by the team. "In addition to being one of the top players of all-time to wear a Saints uniform, he was always generous with his time to youth and those less fortunate in our community. I am proud that Joe will retire as a member of the New Orleans Saints family."
The four-time Pro Bowler is currently ranked 49th all-time in receptions, 55th in receiving yards and is tied for 69th in touchdowns among all NFL receivers. He made 74 catches for 20-plus yards, and 72.3 percent of his catches resulted in a first down.
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