Last season, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan vowed he would not simply release disgruntled defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth. Since the season ended, he’s told several people close to him that he still had no intentions of cutting Haynesworth as the 2011 season drew closer.
But it appears that something soon might have to give -- and the next two days should be interesting to watch.
Haynesworth is set to earn $5.4 million this season. It simply makes no sense to keep a guy on the roster and bury him on the depth chart when he takes up that much cap space. Not when the Redskins have to pay new defensive lineman Barry Cofield, new safety O.J. Atogwe and rookie Ryan Kerrigan, among others. And not when the Redskins are trying to lure other free agents to town, reportedly still chasing defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins and possibly still in the hunt for wide receiver Santonio Holmes. They should be trying to create as much cap room as possible, not clinging to a piece of furniture intended to do nothing but take up space.
Other teams aren’t stupid. Many around the league fully expect Haynesworth to be among the veterans who receive their walking papers Thursday evening when teams are permitted to start releasing players. From their perspective, no team can afford to keep a player around like Haynesworth unless he’s going to contribute.
So what sense does it make to have Haynesworth report to Redskins Park on Thursday? That invites the kind of dark cloud over the opening of training camp that Shanahan should be trying to avoid.
Last year, the Redskins could get away with toying with Haynesworth because there was no cap. Keeping him on the roster to simply make a point isn’t punishing Haynesworth this season. It’s punishing themselves.