Yardbarker Horiz

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Buccaneers Give Haynesworth One Last Chance

This is it for Albert Haynesworth.

According to the NFL Network, no other teams made a claim for Haynesworth.  Tampa Bay, who has publicly acknowledged their hopes on landing the All-Pro for two years, threw him a lifeline yesterday by claiming his rights via the waiver wire.

Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik stated flatly Albert is here because of a season ending injury to 2010 first round draft pick DT Gerald McCoy, not because the team was shopping for a position upgrade.  Obviously, none of the other NFL teams were in the market either.

Today could have been the first day of retirement for Albert.  It could have been the day he decided to hang it up.  Instead, Haynesworth is somewhere at or near One Buccaneer Place, getting ready for a day of preparations leading up to the Houston Texans coming to town Sunday.  He's meeting his third team since Raheem Morris became head coach.

And he has to realize this is it.  Not just "it", this is IT.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have spent both first and both second round draft picks in the 2010 and 2011 drafts along their defensive line (plus a 3rd and 4th in 2009).  They plumbed the waiver wire and plundered practice squads (even pulled a trade) for two years looking for players they believed would excel doing things "the Buccaneer way" up front.  It's been a massive overhaul to return to a powerful Buccaneer defense Tampa Bay fans know will take the team deep into the playoffs.  No stone has been left unturned.  This is another one of those stones.

Do they need Haynesworth?  Right now they do.  However, the Buccaneers had already filled the DT vacancy left by McCoy.  Clearly there is a young player out there they are interested in.  Only Dominik knows how short the leash will be on Haynesworth.

Do they need Haynesworth next season?  This is where it all comes down to Albert: it's all up to him. Play like a monster and get a new contract, fall in the rotation with young players like McCoy, Brian Price, or Roy Miller, teach, demonstrate, extend the career.  Or give up, play out the season, and fade away as the youngry creatures lurking on the defensive line pass on by.

If Haynesworth plays out the way GM Mark Dominik and Head Coach Raheem Morris see it playing out, the competition on the defensive front will be amazing next season.  The Buccaneers will feature one of the most talented (yet least experienced, even with Haynesworth) defensive fronts in the NFL.  Dominik will have to figure out how a new contract for Haynesworth figures into the mix with players like Josh Freeman and Roy Miller finishing up contracts while having big money invested up front on the offensive side.

Dominik and Morris have taken on "challenging" players before:  Mike Williams had questions coming out of Syracuse; LeGarrette Blount had questions coming out of Oregon.  They recently got Tanard Jackson back from a one year substance abuse suspension, and have since extended his contract.  Clearly Haynesworth has to believe, for a final run, this was the right place at the right time.  So it may work out just fine.

Plans laid two years ago may finally be coming together in Tampa Bay.  The proof will be in another playoff run this season.  Only now, more than just Tampa Bay fans will be watching.  Everyone has their opinion on Haynesworth.  The only real question is: what is Albert going to do?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated -- Please have something relevant to contribute and back up your facts.