Donte Stallworth, a former Pats wide receiver who has been good friends with Haynesworth since their college days at Tennessee, might have the most unique perspective of the pending relationship between the defensive lineman and New England.
"I think it will work well," Stallworth said. "I know one thing, when Albert is motivated, he can be a tough player to deal with on the field. He's a very good player, one of the best at that position. I'm sure he'll be motivated. Whenever a player gets traded or released, there's usually a little bit of extra motivation to do well. I think he'll do well in New England."
Head coach Bill Belichick said Thursday morning the Patriots were in the process of acquiring Haynesworth from the Redskins, reportedly for a fifth-round draft pick in 2013. At his best, Haynesworth was the most disruptive defensive player in the NFL. But at his worst, he's been suspended by the league and his own team, and he's had several run-ins with the law.
Belichick has revived the reputations — to varying extents — of other mercurial stars throughout the last decade, most notably safety Rodney Harrison, running back Corey Dillon and wide receiver Randy Moss. A handful of Patriots said Thursday that they don't particularly care for reputations as long as the incoming player wants to fall in line with the system and win games, and Stallworth believes that will be the case with Haynesworth.
"I think he's a real likeable guy," Stallworth said. "Anyone that has known him, has really known him, he's a really likeable guy. He's not egotistical at all. I'm sure he'll be a little extra motivated playing in New England, playing for Belichick. Belichick has had a track record of taking guys who have been perceived as troubled guys and having them fit right into the locker room, and I expect the same thing to happen with Albert. He's a real likeable guy. For anyone who doesn't know him, those guys in the locker room will find that out real soon."
Wide receiver Deion Branch remembered when Dillon was acquired in 2004 after he was incredibly disruptive to the culture in Cincinnati, but things worked out perfectly as Dillon was one of the team's most indispensable players on their way to a Super Bowl.
"He was a great guy, man," Branch said of Dillon. "Corey was one of the guys who just wanted to win. That was his biggest thing. I'm thankful for the opportunity that we had to pick him up when we did, and he excelled at it.
"If that's the thing, for [Haynesworth] to come in, fall in line, understand the Patriot way, if he does that, he'll be OK."
Defensive lineman Ty Warren has had a first-hand look at each of Belichick's controversial acquisitions. Through it all, Warren said it's important to get to know a guy before drawing any type of conclusions because it's impossible to know the complete story of the goings-on in another locker room.
"I don't think one bit that Albert is a bad guy," Warren said. "Corey Dillon wasn't a bad guy. Rodney wasn't a bad guy. A lot of guys right on down the line weren't bad guys when they came in here. Sometimes, guys get a bad rap. The structure that's in place in the locker room will make it an easy transition for him when he comes here."
There's also the matter of Haynesworth's on-field ability. Combined with Wilfork and Warren, the Patriots' defensive line could be downright scary if the trio can click from the get-go.
"It's huge. He's got some freakish ability," Warren said. "He's the real deal."
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