'Skins seek 'selfish' Haynesworth's bonus
Albert Haynesworth didn't show. Teammates called him selfish. Now the Washington Redskins want their money back.
The Redskins are going to see if they can recoup all or part of a $21 million bonus from the disgruntled two-time All Pro defensive tackle, an official within the league with knowledge of the deliberations told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The team decided to take the action after Haynesworth failed to report for a mandatory two-day minicamp.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because coach Mike Shanahan declined to make the team's plans public. But the coach and players had plenty else to say about a player who has collected huge sums of money from the Redskins but has decided he doesn't want to play for them because he doesn't like the new defense.
"Albert made a very selfish decision,'' said linebacker London Fletcher, the team's most respected veteran. "When you decide to play a team sport, you have to look at it and think about everybody involved in the situation. This is not golf, tennis, things like that, where it's an all-about-you sport. What he's decided to do is make a decision based on all-about-him.''
Fletcher and others went further, painting a portrait of a player who has been self-centered since the day he joined the Redskins.
"It's no different than his attitude and approach to last year's defense,'' Fletcher said, "about wanting everything to revolve around him and him making plays. And if it didn't benefit him, he wasn't really willing to do it.''
Shanahan also revealed that Haynesworth earlier this year was given the option of freedom or money — and chose money. The coach said he told Haynesworth in February that the Redskins would agree to release him and let him go to another team — in exchange for not paying him the $21 million bonus due April 1.
"Obviously, he took the check,'' Shanahan said, "so I was surprised he wasn't here today. ... Don't take our check and then say that, hey, you don't want to be part of our organization.''
The Redskins can fine Haynesworth up to $9,442 for missing the minicamp practice, hardly a dent in the money he's collected from the team for one season's worth of work. He been paid $32 million of the $41 million guaranteed in the seven-year, $100 million contract he signed as a free agent last year.
Coincidentally, Haynesworth missed a practice that lasted all of 15 minutes, with the players stretching and running 10 100-yard dashes before a thunderstorm cut the session short. The minicamp wraps up Thursday.
Shanahan's options are limited. He could release Haynesworth, try to trade him, look through the nooks and crannies of contract legalese to see if there's a way to get some of the bonus money back, or keep him on the roster and force another showdown when training camp opens July 29.
A full-fledged attempt to recoup the bonus would likely turn into a drawn-out process that would certainly be challenged by the NFL players' union. The Redskins will look for certain language in Haynesworth's contract to make their case.
"We'll make some decisions here shortly,'' Shanahan said, without being specific.
Having pocketed his money, Haynesworth simply wants out of Washington. He is unhappy that the Redskins are switching to a 3-4 defense and prefers a scheme that would allow him the type of freedom he had during his seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Hoping for a trade, he did not participate in the team's offseason conditioning program and skipped two voluntary minicamps.
Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck, declined comment.
Meanwhile, Haynesworth's teammates made it clear that if he does show up for training camp, there will be fences to mend.
Defensive end Phillip Daniels: "I think I speak for every guy on this team: We all feel like he turned his back on us.''
Center Casey Rabach: "It's getting to be selfish. He's hurting the team. It doesn't sit well with the players. ... You can't really count on him right now.''
Fletcher: "There's ways he cannot be a Redskin: Give the money back. We'll move on without him. I want teammates who I can depend on, who I can count on, who in the fourth quarter I know is going to be there to make a play or do his job that the defense calls (for). We need people that we can depend on. And at the end of the day, right now, he's showing that he can't be depended upon. ... Last year we had a lot of selfishness that took place, and we got 4-12 out of that. This year, we can't have that.''
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who spoke with Haynesworth for about an hour on the phone Tuesday night, was one of the few willing to publicly empathize with the disgruntled player, saying that ``promises were made'' about the way Haynesworth would be used when the contract was signed.
Still, even Hall conceded that Haynesworth is all about Haynesworth.
"We know Albert's going to do what he wants to do,'' Hall said, "whether it's going to benefit him, benefit the team, or if it's a stupid idea or a good idea, he's going to do what he's going to do. It's kind of hard to change his mind.''