Washington squandered a fortune on a player who was clearly a bad fit from the day he signed. Keeping Haynesworth on the team and having him inactive every week, as some in the organization have suggested, would only compound the error. The Redskins aren’t good enough to burn $5.4 million in real dollars and waste valuable cap space and a roster spot out of spite.
Retaining Haynesworth is especially risky for Shanahan.
Shanahan had a poor first season with the Redskins, failing spectacularly in trading for quarterback Donovan McNabb and making other bad decisions.
Late in the season, some veteran players privately questioned Shanahan’s motives. Most are tired of the Shanahan-Haynesworth feud, and having Haynesworth on the team simply to show who’s in charge won’t help Washington win football games.
Shanahan lost supporters in the locker room because of his surprising mishandling of sensitive personnel matters. He potentially risks alienating many players if Haynesworth is still on the team when training camp opens this week.
Worst of all for Redskins fans, the Haynesworth debacle never should have occurred.
People repeatedly told owner Daniel M. Snyder that Haynesworth was wrong for Washington’s defensive scheme. They expressed concern about offering an unprecedented contract. It just didn’t make sense.
Snyder ignored it all, acquiring yet another trophy player.
Haynesworth is to blame, too. He signed a contract. Even if promises were broken about the team’s style of play on defense, an agreement remained in effect for him to play for Washington. It was reasonable for the Redskins to expect Haynesworth fill the role he was assigned.
The Titans built their scheme around Haynesworth and gave him freedom, for the most part, to do as he pleased on the field. The Redskins shouldn’t have signed Haynesworth unless they planned to use him similarly.
Anything else, as we’ve seen, was a formula for failure.
In the NFL, the cap often presents hurdles for clubs that make major mistakes on players. For the Redskins, it should provide the motivation to do something right.