Albert Haynesworth rumors persist
It's no secret the Tampa Bay Buccaneeers are likely to address their defensive line this offseason.
The team's breakdowns in stopping the run late in the season practically make it a requirement. To that end, it's become impossible to deny that a growing chorus of people around the league are talking about the Bucs when the topic of Tennessee All-Pro DT Albert Haynesworth comes up. Tampa Bay is considered by many NFL insiders to be a possible landing spot for perhaps this year's top free-agent prize. And we're not talking about media here. We're talking agents and people in front offices -- those in the know.
Yes, it's early. Free agency doesn't begin until Feb. 27 and teams aren't technically supposed to be engaged in free-agent talks before then. But that doesn't mean subtle signals aren't being sent by teams that wish to acquire big-time free agents. Generally, where there's smoke there's fire when this many people are talking about a potential move.
It's worth mentioning that one of the reasons some are likely making the connection between the 6-6, 320-pound Haynesworth and the Bucs is because of the team's enviable salary-cap position. The Bucs will have well over $40-million in cap space when the 2009 league calendar begins. So, they are one of only a few teams that can easily offer the sort of money Haynesworth wants -- a salary that likely makes him the league's highest-paid defender.
"I want to be the top, not among the top,'' Haynesworth told reporters at the Pro Bowl last week. ''That' s how the market goes. They put you as the top free agent, so you got to demand top dollar. . . . Hopefully the Titans step up. If they don't, I'm looking ."
But, that said, this is certainly something to keep an eye on. And if the Bucs actually do make a run at Haynesworth, it could lead to the team's biggest acquisition -- and we do mean big -- in a long, long time.
For all of his considerable talent, Haynesworth also has a history of problems on the field, including a five-game suspension in 2006 for stomping on the head of helmet-less Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode.
That same year, he set off a training camp brawl by kicking center Justin Hartwig. In 2003, he was deactivated for a game after hitting tackle Matt Martin in the back of the head.