By now, most football fans know that the NFL has decided to look into possible tampering by the Redskins relative to Albert Haynesworth. That’s a noteworthy and serious matter, but it’s not particularly important in terms of assessing the value Haynesworth brings to the Redskins. The issue which speaks directly to his value to the team is the fact he was charged late last year with reckless driving and driving on a suspended license.
For the record, Haynesworth has pleaded not guilty. Still, he’s facing the possibility of up to 7 months in jail. He could also be suspended by the league for as many as eight games, regardless of how favorably his legal case is resolved. Obviously, Albert Haynesworth’s immense value as a football player is only realized when he’s actually on the field. All of the legal maneuvering in the world may not enable him to play more than half of a season this year. And, if he’s convicted, Haynesworth could miss the entire season. You have to wonder if the Redskins knew a charge of this nature was pending when they signed him to his mega-deal. I tend to believe they did, and that they thought he was worth the risk.
As for that other matter – the tampering charge – cry me a river Tennessee. You had a year to sign the man to a new deal, and yet failed to do so. You didn’t even enter into serious talks until the end of December last year. And, you reportedly offered Haynesworth about one-third of what as many as six teams were willing to pay him.
Did the Redskins meet with Haynesworth’s agent too soon (at the Combine)? Apparently, they did. However, it’s totally reasonable to believe the focus of their discussion was Malcolm Kelly’s knee. After all, Chad Speck is Kelly’s agent too. Could Haynesworth’s name have come up? Duh. Were the parameters of a contract discussed? That’s something the league will have to decide and weigh.
If the league determines that the Redskins tampered with Haynesworth under its definition of the term, the team will likely lose a mid-round draft pick in next year’s draft. So, there’s definitely a substantive consequence to having the Commissioner’s ruling go against them. Nonetheless, if you believe a recent article by Fox Sports, tampering is a common practice (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/9586094/Tampering-has-become-NFL’s-dirty-secret).
The issue of tampering is being reviewed by the Competition Committee. Until the committee implements a practical policy that all teams are actually expected to follow, singling out the Redskins won’t scare off other teams. Neither will it scare off the players’ agents. For their part, the Redskins won’t like losing a draft pick, but they’ll survive. Besides, me thinks the team will be a whole lot unhappier if Haynesworth doesn’t get on the field this year due to legal issues. Frankly, I believe he’s likely to miss half of the upcoming season, at a minimum.