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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Decision to release Haynesworth an easy one



The Bucs have released mercurial defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth after his disappointing end to the season, a move that creates even more salary-cap space for a team already swimming in it.

Haynesworth, claimed off waivers in November after Gerald McCoy's season-ending biceps injury, immediately stepped into the starting lineup for Tampa Bay and had a noticeable impact. But his play and effort level tailed off toward the end of the season. The Bucs considered cutting him during the season.

The decision was an easy one given Haynesworth's $6.7 million base salary in 2012. The move will add that much to the Bucs' available cap space, which already is hovering around the $60 million mark.

"I appreciate Albert playing for us after some key injuries this past season," general manager Mark Dominik said. "He was very professional and we now wish him all the best as he moves forward."

Haynesworth spent time with three different teams in 2011. He began the year with the Redskins, with whom he had fallen out of favor after grossly underperforming on a $100 million contract and publicly complaining about his role in the team's revamped 3-4 defense. The Patriots acquired him during the preseason, but he played only sparingly and had little impact before his release in November.

The Bucs, desperate for depth on the defensive line, claimed Haynesworth but never intended the move to be a long-term solution. That approach was only solidified when Haynesworth's performance declined down the stretch and the Bucs were unable to snap what became a 10-game losing streak.

Haynesworth admitted as much, telling the Tampa Bay Times after the season, "This year right here, you’ve probably seen me at my worst. I mean just as far as my play. I still did some good things, but I just think that next year I’ll be a hell of a lot better, back closer to my ’08 form."

That was the year Haynesworth was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. Asked why his play declined so sharply, Haynesworth said, "It was just me not having a good offseason, worrying about whether I was going back to the Redskins, all that stuff. One day before reporting to (training) camp, I get traded (to New England), then I’m there trying to learn that system and dealing with that. I had a lot on my plate and a lot on my mind.

"Then I got here and it kind of freed me up to get back to how I play. So as time went on, I got more comfortable in the system and things got a little easier."

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:52am]


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