Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquire Albert Haynesworth
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in an effort account for the loss of 2010 first-round pick Gerald McCoy, have acquired Patriots castoff defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, a player with a history of significant impact but one who has been ineffective of late.
Haynesworth, waived by the Patriots on Tuesday, was claimed off waivers by the Buccaneers.
Dogged by questions about his effort in Washington two years ago (he was released in August) despite his $100 million contract, Haynesworth did little to deflect those questions during the past eight weeks in New England.
But Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik was encouraged by his first conversation with his newest player.
“I have had a chance to talk with him already and, as you would hope, he was excited and fired up and asked us how soon we could get him a flight,” Dominik said. “He wants to come in tonight to go to practice tomorrow. That’s what his words were. That was very encouraging.”
Dominik’s hope that Haynesworth, 30, will succeed in Tampa Bay is bolstered by his belief that the Bucs’ defensive system is better suited to his talents. Both the Redskins and Patriots use three defensive lineman in 3-4 alignments. The Bucs have a traditional 4-3 front, with four down linemen and defensive tackles who shoot through designated gaps. The 3-4 defense requires tackles to play in one of two gaps.
“I think a thing that I’m going to bank on a little bit here is our defense and what we ask the 3-technique (defensive tackle) to do,” Dominik said. “Regardless of what you’ve seen from Albert Haynesworth over the past couple of seasons, he’s been more of a 3-4 defensive end who was two-gapping. We’ve always felt he’s a 1-gap penetrator. It made sense to us, it made sense to me to put the claim in for a guy I think can help us in this second-half stretch.”
Dominik conceded the move was a curious one for a team that has eschewed outside free agents and has vowed to build through the draft. But the overwhelming need at defensive tackle, where the Bucs have just two healthy players (Brian Price and Roy Miller), required an unusual response, Dominik said.
“I can say candidly that if Gerald wasn’t hurt, I probably wouldn’t make this move,” Dominik said. “But because of the situation we’re in, I feel like Albert Haynesworth has the best ability of any defensive tackle out there. For me, it made sense as an organization to bring him on board.
“There are some misconceptions sometimes about the way we’re building this team. We want to win. Albert Haynesworth coming down here, we control his rights like any other team in the league. It’ll be up to him and how he plays and how he performs.”
The Bucs will be on the hook for roughly half of Haynesworth’s $1.5 million salary in 2011. He is under contract for 2012 at $6.7 million, though Dominik was clear that his tenure in Tampa Bay initially will be evaluated “week to week.”
-- STEPHEN F. HOLDER, Times Staff Writer