A new labor deal may or may not be on the horizon, but when the owners and players come to an agreement, there will likely be an accelerated free-agency period followed by training camp and the regular season.
By that point, everything should be back to normal, which includes Albert Haynesworth making life difficult for some poor coach who thought he would be the one to motivate a man seemingly incapable of being motivated. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was never under such illusions when he arrived in Washington last year. By the preseason it was clear they couldn't co-exist.
Just chalk it up as another one of Dan Snyder's high-priced personnel mistakes. (The 'Skins gave Haynesworth a $100 million deal in February 2009, including $41 million in guarantees.)
And now, even though Washington desperately needs some help along the defensive line, the rebuilding process won't include Haynesworth. NFL Network's Jason La Canfora figures "Aubrayo Franklin and Cullen Jenkins [will] get a good long look [from the 'Skins]," adding that “I think they’d trade (Haynesworth) for a seventh-round pick somewhere outside the division before they dealt him to the Eagles."
(La Canfora mentioned Philadelphia because Jim Washburn, Haynesworth's former defensive line coach in Tennessee, now coaches the Eagles' defensive line.)
“They should have taken a fifth for him last offseason and ended the circus then,” La Canfora continued. “We shall see. Skins GM Bruce Allen has repeatedly told Haynesworth’s people that if they don’t get ‘real value’ in a trade they won’t move him, but I don’t see them getting anything better than a fifth for him, and they have wanted much more than that.”
Allen's thinking isn't unique to the Redskins. It's prevalent among teams that fork over substantial paydays for big-name free agents only to get in return substandard performances and less salary-cap wiggle room. Instead of cutting bait and moving on, they suffer from what economists call the "sunk cost fallacy." In English, it's simply throwing good money after bad.
Brian Burke of AdvancedNFLStats.com talked about the sunk cost fallacy late in the 2009 season, relating it to JaMarcus Russell.
Russell certainly isn’t the only top pick who was kept under center too long. Just about every team has had a similar experience in recent memory. General managers and coaches are the ones least willing to cut their losses with bad players because they’re the ones most attached to the sunk costs. The importance of responsibility is why it makes some sense to periodically replace senior management, whether at corporation, a government agency, or professional football team. New managers are not beholden to their predecessors’ sunk costs, and are freer to make rational decisions.Unfortunately for the Redskins, Allen -- who inherited Haynesworth from Vinny Cerrato -- hasn't followed that advice. Presumably because in the back of Allen's mind is the fear that if he cuts Haynesworth, not only does that mean tens of millions of dollars down the drain (sunk cost!), there's the chance that another team will sign him, and worse, he will play well.
To paraphrase an an old saying: "A player is worth what somebody's willing to pay for him." Which is usually muttered right before someone else says, "It only takes one team." The problem: "one team" has historically referred to the Redskins, an outfit renown for paying well over market rates -- either in salary or draft picks -- for locker room malcontents, players on the downside of great careers or both.
Of course, if Allen promptly jettisons Haynesworth when the lockout ends, and Bill Belichick signs him for the league minimum, expect the media to hail the decision as "low-risk" and "genius." It's this thinking that got the Redskins in their current predicament.
On the upside, Washington gets a $41 million paperweight out of it. So there's that.
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