You know you've heard this story before.
Disgruntled NFL superstar and locker room "problem" who has been under-performing comes to the Patriots and turns his career back around with a new chip on their shoulder while surrounded by a solid locker room, with a demanding head coach. Yes, those were the tales of Randy Moss and Corey Dillon with the Patriots.
And while the Patriots' early-morning trade for disgruntled defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth certainly doesn't guarantee Haynesworth will get his act together like Dillon and Moss did - I can tell you one thing: this is Haynesworth's last chance. Haynesworth is a player that has generally succeeded in contract years, when things actually mattered for his career. However, if Haynesworth doesn't give it his all in a Patriots uniform, he will likely never get another contract again. If he doesn't play like he has a chip on his shoulder now, then he never will.
That's exactly what has me excited about this deal and why I think it was yet another shrewd move by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The compensation, a 2013 fifth round pick, is virtually nothing.
And Haynesworth's contract, at this point, is very manageable. According to the sports contract website Spotrac.com, Haynesworth is due base salaries of $5.4 million in 2011 and $6.7 million in 2012. In 2013, Haynesworth is due a $20.5 million bonus, so you can be 100% sure the Patriots won't retain him past 2012. So essentially, the Patriots have Haynesworth on a two year, $12 million deal.
In summary, if he gets his act together, the Patriots have one of the very best defensive players in the NFL blowing up plays along the defensive line. If he doesn't, and he plays like this, then the Patriots simply move on without much damage done.
More on Haynesworth and what role he could play after the jump!
So what are the Patriots getting with a potentially motivated Haynesworth? Well, at 6'6" and 335 lbs, he is a potential wrecking ball on the defensive line who can blow up any play in the backfield.
For the Patriots, I could see him playing in a couple of different roles. For one, I see him starting out as a defensive tackle in four man fronts for the team. Don't forget that the Patriots play in sub-packages more than half the time, so I think Haynesworth would be happy in this role. If things go well, I could also see him evolving into a right defensive end. When he's actually trying, Haynesworth has better than advertised athleticism, and he can make a huge impact in closing the pocket and improving the pass rush.
And imagine this: In goal line situations, the Patriots could feature a front of Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Ron Brace, and Albert Haynesworth. The Patriots could also work in some 4-3 packages with a potential front seven of Jermaine Cunningham, Haynesworth, Wilfork, Eric Moore on the defensive line, with a linebacking corps of Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, and Gary Guyton.
The point is, if Haynesworth gets his act together, the Patriots will be getting a dynamic player who could bring a lot of versatility to the Patriots defense.
But with Haynesworth, there's an awful lot of "ifs." While Randy Moss and Corey Dillon had resurgent careers with the team, Haynesworth is certainly not a guarantee. For now, we can only hope that Haynesworth has that all-important chip on his shoulder, and that he actually shows up to play.