Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Joe Smith and Greg Auman

Is Haynesworth really 'on the radar?'

20

February

There's an awful lot of dot connecting when it comes to the Bucs and Titans free agent Albert Haynesworth.

The Pro Bowl defensive tackle is considered a rare impact player, devastating against the run and a force as a pass rusher. He has 14.5 sacks in the past 25 games, which is impressive for an interior defensive lineman.

Although the free agent signing period doesn't begin until Feb. 27, and technically coaches and general managers are supposed to refrain from discussing players prior to next Friday, coach Raheem Morris admitted having interest in Haynesworth.

"He definitely has talent,'' Morris said of Haynesworth Friday. "He's definitely on the radar. We'll see when that time comes.''

The when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 27, that time will come. The Bucs may even make a phone call or two. But Haynesworth seems more focused on fortune than football to be a good fit for Tampa Bay.

He has spent the past several months insisting that he become the highest-paid defensive  lineman in NFL history -- eclipsing the 6-year ceal that guaranteed $30-million for Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Demands are closer to the $40-million range.

The easy thing to do is link Haynesworth to the Bucs because they have salary cap room ($42-million before slapping the franchise tag on WR Antonio Bryant) and need (defensive tackle Jovan Haye is a free agent).

But if you know anything about general manager Mark Dominik, who has adopted his own philosophy about free agency during his 14 years with the team, he doesn't view the process as a cure-all for building a consistent winner.

The Bucs are more than one or two players away -- even one as good as Haynesworth -- from becoming a Super Bowl contender. And it's pretty obvious the focus for the Bucs is to re-sign as many of their own good players before throwing piles of cash at marquee names. Outside of center Jeff Faine, when was the last time the Glazers cut an enormous signing bonus check for a free agent?

In talking to Dominik the last few days at the NFL combine, you never got the sense that Haynesworth is really on the Bucs' radar the way Morris stated today. Of course, the draft and free agency is liar's poker.

In the case of Haynesworth, the Bucs will have to put their cards on the table pretty soon. Don't be surprised if it is all a bluff.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:25pm]

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