Wild Day for Redskins As Free Agency Begins
By: Jake Russell @_JakeRussell
Posted: 2009-02-27
Category: Washington Redskins News
The Redskins have done it again. This time, it’s record setting.

Never shy from attempting to catch the big fish in the ocean known as NFL free agency, the Redskins have essentially caught the whale shark of this year’s talent pool.

The team doled out a 7-year, $100 million contract to former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the largest contract ever given to a defensive player, with a reported $41 million in guarantees, a record for any NFL player. The deal could escalate to as much as $115 million. An agreement was reportedly struck around 5:30 Friday morning.

The Redskins hope Haynesworth’s addition will help provide the type of pass rush that they have been missing for years. Haynesworth, at 6’6” and 320 pounds, is expected to be a run-stuffing defensive tackle that can occupy two or three blockers and allow defenders such as Andre Carter, London Fletcher, and Jason Taylor (whom the team hopes to utilize in a more open, free-roaming position, alternating from defensive end to outside linebacker) to apply constant pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

Haynesworth is known for rushing the passer exceptionally well for a defensive tackle. He registered 8.5 sacks in 2008, a career high that tied Minnesota’s Kevin Williams for most amongst defensive tackles. That total is more than any Redskin from last season.

Since entering the NFL as the 15th overall selection in 2002, Haynesworth has totaled 271 tackles, 24 sacks, and 18 defended passes.

The Redskins also retained cornerback DeAngelo Hall, their biggest priority as far as in-house free agents go, with a 6-year, $54 million deal. Hall, who grew up a Redskins fan and played at Virginia Tech, has said that Washington was where he wanted to be all along.

Hall was viewed as a malcontent in Atlanta and was consequently shipped to Oakland last year. He was given a 7-year, $70 million deal by owner Al Davis but the marriage ended quickly when Hall was released after just eight games.

He signed with the Redskins shortly after, passing up opportunities to join contenders such as the New England Patriots. It didn’t take him long to become arguably the Redskins’ most productive cornerback down the stretch. In his seven games with the team, he logged 25 tackles, defended eight passes and intercepted two (both came in crucial games against division rivals).

To make room for both players’ salaries, the Redskins saved $6 million by releasing veteran cornerback Shawn Springs.

Springs was in good spirits given the situation and was appreciative of the opportunity to play for his hometown team (he grew up in Silver Spring, MD) despite being raised a Cowboys fan. Springs’ father, Ron, played for the Dallas Cowboys when Shawn was a child. Potential suitors could be the Patriots or New Orleans Saints, who hired former Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams this offseason.

The Redskins also hope to address their needs on the offensive line. They have had their eyes set on guard Derrick Dockery, who was released by the Buffalo Bills yesterday, just two years after he left Washington to sign a 7-year, $49 million deal. Retaining Dockery was the Redskins biggest priority heading into the 2007 offseason but their offer paled in comparison to Buffalo’s surprising deal.

Dockery is reportedly visiting the Detroit Lions on Friday, which means the Redskins have competition for the services of the six-year veteran. The Redskins were in negotiations to sign Dockery until around 3:00 a.m. Friday, according to the Washington Post.
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