It’s a prototypical low-risk, high-reward move for Bill Belichick, who will reap tremendous benefits if he can straighten out the mercurial defensive lineman who crashed and burned after signing a $100 million deal with the Redskins in 2009. Reports have indicated Haynesworth restructured his contract as part of the trade, and he won’t receive any guaranteed money. If he’s a problem, he’ll be collecting unemployment.
However, if Haynesworth capitalizes off of his new surroundings and is motivated by his flameout in D.C., he could recapture the form that made him the most dominant defensive player in the NFL in 2007 and 2008.
Haynesworth can play defensive end or defensive tackle in the Patriots’ three-man front, but his most natural position is inside in a four-man front. That’s where he made life a living hell for offensive linemen during his tenure with the Titans.
Haynesworth immediately butted heads with Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, who implemented a 3-4 scheme when he took over in 2010. Haynesworth didn’t like the idea of taking on blockers because he preferred to spring free into the offensive backfield, which was his best asset in Tennessee.
The problem, though, is the Patriots’ 3-4 scheme asks for similar responsibilities. Since Belichick is more respected — Haynesworth had previously professed his love for New England — it’s possible the defensive lineman could adhere to the Patriots’ message.
Plus, Belichick is considered a much more hands-off head coach than Shanahan, who can be finicky about every last detail. Obviously, those details should mean the world to a guy who signed a $100 million contract, so there’s no excusing Haynesworth for his sulking in Washington, but certain personalities don’t always mesh well together.
If they jive in New England, the Patriots will have one of the most feared fronts in football. If not, it might be hard to blame the Pats for trying. After all, one-time Defensive Players of the Year don’t always come around for fifth-round draft picks.