Was letting Haynesworth hit the open market the Tennessee Titans’ plan all along?

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Big Albert Haynesworth is probably a week or two away from getting a fat new contract. Unfortunately, due to his decision to test the lucrative waters of the open market, Al’s new deal may not be courtesy of the Tennessee Titans.

Instead of continuing to work towards the consummation of a new contract with his current employer, Haynesworth has opted to be wined and dined by representatives of anxious franchises in other cities that may be more than willing to break the bank for #92’s services.

Considering what’s happened over the course of the last offseason or so, I can’t say that I’m surprised by today’s events. The ball for Haynesworth potentially leaving via free agency was set in motion several months ago by the Titans.

To begin this little exercise, let’s flashback to last offseason. Despite possessing a ton of salary cap room, the Titans ignored the temptation of spending heavily in free agency. Instead, Mike Reinfeldt and Co. decided that locking up key in-house players for the long haul was the team’s biggest priority.

Around the time of the draft, LT Michael Roos was signed to a long-term deal. Later that offseason, the team’s committment to its key players was once again demonstrated as a result of extensions given to RT David Stewart and CB Cortland Finnegan.

As for #92, the only thing that the Titans were able to extend to Albert Haynesworth was the franchise tag. In July, Fat Albert signed a one-year tender that provided him with the chance to escape another year of the tag by reaching some very easily attainable incentives. Not surprisingly, Albert fulfilled the conditions of the deal by having perhaps his best season as a pro in 2008.

One could also point to the team’s decision to draft DE/DT Jason Jones as a possible indicator of Haynesworth’s (imminent?) departure. It was pretty clear from the beginning that the team thought highly of Jason’s future:

“He can come in and line up at end for us, he can move inside and be a rush tackle,” said Titans coach Jeff Fisher. “We feel like he has growth potential to move inside and end up as a very, very good defensive tackle prospect.”

Despite a slow start, Jones didn’t disappoint as a rookie. Filling in for an injured Haynesworth, Jason wreaked havoc on the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 3.5 sack performance in the Titans’ commanding victory over the eventual world champs.  

I could be wrong (actually, I hope I’m incorrect), but judging by today’s events, it appears as though the decision to allow Haynesworth to test the open market was made long ago.

Obviously, the re-signings of the likes of Roos, Stewart and Finnegan were considered bigger priorities than giving Haynesworth a fat-new deal. Those decisions alone indicated who the real core Tennessee Titans were. Also, the presence of an up-and-comer such as Jason Jones could have made it easier for the team to envision the suddenly, not-so-nightmarish scenario of life without Haynesworth.

If Al does leave Nashville, many will point to the most recent developments as the beginning of the end of his days in a Titan uniform. However, upon further look, it’s pretty obvious, at least to one observer, that the seeds for his potential departure were planted wayyy before today.  

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10 Responses to “Was letting Haynesworth hit the open market the Tennessee Titans’ plan all along?”

  1. Morgan Says:

    Great Read
    I’ve never thought about it that way but now that I see it, it makes perfect sense. Big AL has never in his entire career played a full season. 14 games last year was the most time he spent on the field. The players who are out there every play, every game are the ones who should get the big contracts, not part time stars.

  2. Andrew Strickert Says:

    There is some good news – the Titans have agreed to terms with Rob Bironas. Four years, $12M, $5M guaranteed.

  3. Kevin G Says:

    I personally bellieve that he is gone, some team will pay silly money for him, and that will be that. the titans have already made their offer, and it is not hard to imagine it being topped, I believe it was 4 yr 36 mil. I do not see Reinfeldt tying up that much money in a layer who is not a QB.
    another thing to consider is that the titans may be looking further down the road, lest we forget what happened last time when we had too much money in stars.

  4. Will Says:

    I have a sinking feeling that, if the Titans lose Big Al, we might be looking at an 8-8 season.
    Jason Jones is talented, but he’s not very big, and his great performance against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Steelers was against a weak offensive line.

  5. Scott Says:

    I don’t think that the plan all along was to let Albert go, but I do think that Titans had (and have) a contingency plan in place in case he did. The Titans’ management has been aware, like most everyone else, that Albert would want to be one of the highest paid players in the NFL. The hope was that he would value his time with the Titans and and his relationship with Tennessee and would give the team at least a bit of a hometown discount. I never thought that the Titans would be willing pay Albert top dollar, so I am not surprised that they have not been able to re-sign him.
    The reports that suggest that Albert will not sign with the Titans before the 27th, and will instead consider offers from other teams, means that Albert’s time in Tennessee is done. Given the impact Albert has had the last two years, another team will give him 12 or 13 million a year for six years with 35 million guaranteed. Just look at what some of the other less effective DTs received last year during free agency. Someone will break the bank to get Albert – he is that good.
    Losing Albert, though, likely means that the Titans will have to draft a DT in the first two rounds (unless, of course there is a FA signing). I don’t think we can go into next season relying on the DT rotation of Brown, Vickerson and Jones. I have been a big fan of Peria Jerry, but he should be long gone by the time the Titans pick in the first round. So that leaves guys like Terrence Cody, Ron Brace, Gerald McCoy and Evander Hood, all of whom are probably 2nd or third round talents.
    Drex, you will probably write a piece (or many pieces) on this in the weeks to come, but which one do you the think the Titans would pick???

  6. Kevin G Says:

    terrance cody and gerald mccoy returned to school, so they are not options.

  7. Drexel Perry Says:

    As always, thanks for chiming in with your thoughts guys.
    Scott,
    I like B.J. Raji and Peria Jerry but at pick #30, the Titans probably won’t have a chance to select either one of them.
    Ron Brace is a guy that intrigues me and as you suggest, he may be available in the 2nd. He’s a big kid (6’5″ 324) who can collapse a pocket and play the run.
    Jason Jones and Tony Brown are good pass rushers but without Haynesworth, the Titans will need a big body in their DT rotation to stop the run.
    Brace could be a nice option if Big Al ventures elsewhere.

  8. David H... Says:

    I don’t know why Albert thinks they’re greener pastures outside of Nashville. I can remember about 5 or 6 years ago we let another 1st round Defensive linemen test the free agent market in search of big bucks and a new opportunity. He also played his college ball in the SEC Like Albert. He went off to Philly, and they reached the SuperBowl but didn’t win it. They used him in a completly different way than he was use to and battled injuries throughout is tenure with that team.
    He just recently came back to Nashville and resigned with the team that drafted him for a two year deal. He is obviously at the end of his career or at least close to it with possibly two years or three years left in the tank. Ever since he left, yeah his pockets are fatter but his game has never been the same and he still dosen’t have a ring. Maybe he did’nt have the same supporting cast, and possibly coaching (Jim Washburn).
    Albert, Stay in Nashville where you belong. Dont become the 2009 Jevon Kearse.

  9. David H... Says:

    I don’t know why Albert thinks they’re greener pastures outside of Nashville. I can remember about 5 or 6 years ago we let another 1st round Defensive linemen test the free agent market in search of big bucks and a new opportunity. He also played his college ball in the SEC Like Albert. He went off to Philly, and they reached the SuperBowl but didn’t win it. They used him in a completly different way than he was use to and battled injuries throughout is tenure with that team.
    He just recently came back to Nashville and resigned with the team that drafted him for a two year deal. He is obviously at the end of his career or at least close to it with possibly two years or three years left in the tank. Ever since he left, yeah his pockets are fatter but his game has never been the same and he still dosen’t have a ring. Maybe he did’nt have the same supporting cast, and possibly coaching (Jim Washburn).
    Albert, Stay in Nashville where you belong. Dont become the 2009 Jevon Kearse.

  10. When will the Tennessee Titans show CJ the money? « Total Titans Says:

    […] Albert Haynesworth) but considering CJ’s youthful age, I’d be utterly shocked if the “Big Al” situation re-emerged in the form of Johnson departing for financially greener […]

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