The King, 2009
You knew it was coming. It is on the short-list of worst free agent signings in NFL history. But at least when Washington signed Albert Haynesworth to contract that could have totaled more than $100 million, you could understand the thought process. Haynesworth was the dominant interior lineman in the game. He was Aaron Donald, only bigger and meaner. (OK, he wasn’t Aaron Donald, but he was as close as you got in 2009.) Sure, he had attitude problems, but how many defensive linemen are sweethearts?
Sadly for Washington, Haynesworth just didn’t want to play all that badly. He got his money. He took a step back in his first year, though he was still an asset on the field. But before his second year, no-nonsense coach Mike Shanahan came to town. The situation imploded. Shanahan brought in Jim Haslett as his defensive coordinator. Haslett was a 3-4 coach. Haynesworth profiled as an ideal nose tackle in such a defense. But that’s not what Haynesworth was told when he had signed under a different coaching staff. He didn’t want to play the nose. Haynesworth proved too stubborn to suck it up and do what his coach wanted. Shanahan proved too stubborn to figure out some way to accommodate his star player. The result was laughable, provided you weren’t a Washington fan. Haynesworth was gone in two years, and would really never make his mark in the NFL again.
I’d like to think that Washington has learned from its early mistakes, but I’m not so sure. If Curtis Samuel doesn’t stay healthy and remain a productive player, the 2021 class of Samuel, Jackson and Ryan Fitzpatrick will go down as one of the worst in Washington history. And based on what we’ve gone over, that’s saying something.