In a stunning move the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have claimed former Titan, Redskin and Patriot Albert Haynesworth this afternoon off of waivers. Haynesworth, 30, was released Tuesday by New England.
Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik talked about the acquisition.
“Obviously we made a waiver claim today for Albert Haynesworth and were awarded his contract,” Dominik said. “I have had a chance to speak to him already and as you would hope he is excited, fired up and has asked how soon we can get him a flight. He wants to be in tonight and practice tomorrow was what his words were. So that was very encouraging.
“This move was predicated by the injury to Gerald McCoy. I can say candidly if Gerald McCoy wasn’t hurt right now I probably wouldn’t do this move. But because of the situation I felt like Albert Haynesworth has the best ability of any defensive tackle out there. For me it made sense as an organization to bring him onboard. On the downside we did release John McCargo, who we signed yesterday.
Dominik continued to explain his decision and how he thinks Haynesworth can help the Buccaneers.
“The need is important but the thing I think I’m going to bank on a little bit here [with] our defense and what we ask the three technique to do, regardless of what you have seen from Albert Haynesworth over the last couple seasons, [is that] he’s been more of a 3-4 defensive end two-gapping. He and we have always felt he was more of a one-gap penetrator. And the timing is what it was. It made sense to us and to me to put the claim in for a guy I think can help us the second half of the stretch.
Mark Dominik has been a proponent of building through the draft and has rarely delved into the free agent pool. The signing of a veteran, who comes with some baggage like Haynesworth, may confuse some fans. Dominik defended his track record.
“There are some misconceptions sometimes in they way we are trying to build this team,” Dominik said. “We want to win. We control his rights just like any other club in the league and it will be up to him how he plays and performs.”
It was believed the Buccaneers were close to signing Haynesworth two years ago, but the Redskins eventually won the battle for the former Tennessee Volunteer.
“We were in talks with him that first night (of free agency) but Albert and his agent Chad Specht made the decision, which is fine, to go to Washington,” Dominik said. “But it is a guy I have continued to watch and I will continue to watch other players in the league we are interested in.”
Dominik was asked if he had any contact with the Patriots today in regards to Haynesworth’s work ethic or play on the field this year.
“I didn’t feel that was necessary. I’ve read all the articles,” Dominik said. “What I did was I went to the film. And I watched 134 of his snaps this year twice. Watched every game twice. Watched how he played, his effort, his motor, what they asked him to do. I watched the play where Brandon Jacobs scored a touchdown and he didn’t play another snap again for the New England Patriots. But I wanted to watch who he was as a player and that, to me, was the most important thing.”
Dominik talked about what he saw after watching the game tape.
“He can be strong, powerful, dominating; he can be disruptive still,” Dominik said. “When I see him shoot a gap, he can still play football. He’s not one of these older players who really can’t play anymore. I just want him to play our way. Talking to Coach Morris, he is excited about it and looking forward to moving forward with Albert Haynesworth and seeing how he does here.”
Statistically, Haynesworth had been less than impressive with the Patriots. But Dominik said stats don’t always tell the whole picture.
“I would say – and this is not a shot – NFL.com is not an official stat,” Dominik said. “Adrian Clayborn has more than 13 tackles. I can show you upstairs Adrian Clayborn had two solo tackles last week alone with two assists.
“I counted seven QB pressures, number one, [and] that was important. I counted about 15 disruption plays and I counted eight total tackles, which isn’t tremendous, I agree with that. And again, he is playing in a two-gap system. I have always felt Albert Haynesworth is a one-gap player and I think Albert feels that way.”
While the book on Haynesworth has played out over the last two-and-a-half seasons in the papers and on ESPN, the baggage that the former Patriot brings is well known. But Dominik feels the Buccaneers can reign in the former Pro Bowler.
“We’ve had a lot of star power here in the past we have been able to handle,” Dominik said. “Keyshawn Johnson, we made a big trade. We made a decision to sign Simeon Rice and then sign him to a big extension. So we have been down this road with a lot of these players that have a lot of media attention. And we have had success with it in my opinion. We won a Super Bowl with both of those players.
“With Albert Haynesworth, at the end of the day, he is here off of a waiver claim and I expect him to perform the way I think he is expecting to perform or the same thing can happen.
“I’d say it is a week-to-week evaluation. You know it’s that way with a lot of players. Let’s be candid, this is the NFL. It’s tough. I’m looking forward to actually physically talking to him. Having him in the building and watching his effort level tomorrow – like I’m sure you all will be – in the practice where we actually have pads on and let’s go see what Albert Haynesworth can do and bring to this football team.”