Redskins Sign Albert Haynesworth to Record Contract

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 28, 2009

Groggy after being awakened early yesterday morning by a phone call from his agent, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth figured he must have misunderstood what was said. Although Haynesworth expected to receive big contract offers with the opening of free agency, he was not prepared for the Washington Redskins' record $100 million proposal.

"I was like, 'You said what?' " Haynesworth said. "I was just astounded."

Astounded, and eager to leave his home in Knoxville, Tenn., to travel to Redskins Park, where the Redskins introduced their newest player at an evening news conference. Owner Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, again made a big splash in free agency, luring the two-time all-pro from the Tennessee Titans with a seven-year contract that could be worth as much as $115 million based on Haynesworth's performance, NFL sources said.

The package includes $41 million in guarantees -- the highest total in league history -- and Haynesworth is ensured of receiving about $32 million in the first 13 months of the contract, which was finalized shortly after agent Chad Speck phoned Haynesworth at around 3:45 a.m.

Despite getting an early wake-up call and experiencing a whirlwind day that included the signing of his new deal, Haynesworth seemed upbeat throughout the 30-minute session while answering reporters' questions in the complex's auditorium.

He vowed to be the difference-maker the Redskins envisioned when they made him the highest-paid defensive player in the sport, saying he would not be remembered as a "bust." He acknowledged he had problems controlling his temper but said he has learned from those experiences and grown as a person.

Haynesworth quickly embraced his new role as the face of the franchise, and he said he understands what is at stake for him and the team.

"With the contract, it's going to be all on me," he said. "What they want me to come here and do is play football and be disruptive, do what I do, so that's what I've come here to do. When you get on the field, you're not thinking about dollar signs or anything like that, you're just going out there to play. It's a lot of money, but honestly, I put more pressure on myself than what the contract will do.

"I have such high standards for myself that, you know, [Snyder] can pay me half a billion dollars, and it still would have been the pressure I put on myself. I expect myself to play at a high level and to dominate. And if I'm not making plays, then people around me are making plays. As far as the number, I mean, yeah, it's great. It's awesome, don't get me wrong, but as far as the pressure, no."

Haynesworth certainly appeared relaxed on his first day with the Redskins. Dressed casually in jeans, white tennis shoes, a blue sweater, an untucked white dress shirt and wearing large diamonds in each ear, Haynesworth, whose mother accompanied him to Ashburn, went to the podium after being introduced by Coach Jim Zorn.

The versatile seven-year veteran, who also has excelled while occasionally playing defensive end, spoke of wanting to be compared favorably to Hall of Fame defensive lineman Reggie White.

"When I line up in front of somebody, put that helmet on, it's to kick butt," Haynesworth said. "It's to make sure that guy knows that I'm the best player he played against.

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