Talking turkey about Albert Haynesworth
Happy Thanksgiving, Titans fans! Let's talk turkey.
In football, it all starts up front and the man who's been front and center in the Titans defense this year has been Albert Haynesworth.
There can be no doubt that Haynesworth was having a career year prior to his hamstring injury which caused him to miss the last two games. A quick look at the stats shows the Titans were yielding only 66 rushing yards per game in their first eight games, best in the league, with Albert being the stopper in the middle. The Titans then proceeded to surrender 166 yards per game in each of their next two outings, which were without Big Al.
His contributions this year have gone far beyond that, however. With Albert commanding double-teams on pass rushes as well as running downs, the defense was able to pressure the quarterback with only a four-man rush. Without him, they've had difficulty, even when rushing five men.
I'm not sure how it can be emphasized enough what a good four-man pass rush does for a defense. It has certainly given defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz a lot of options.
So why the dramatic improvement this year, Albert's sixth season? More than likely because it's a contract year. With that in mind, should the Titans get into a bidding war for Big Al's services for the next four, five or six years?
It will be very expensive and all it may take for him to leave is for one team to offer him stupid money. I guessed earlier this season that Albert might want something in the $20-25M range in guaranteed money. After missing the last two games, his value has increased and the price tag on him has probably been marked up.
My best guesstimate is that the Titans have let Haynesworth's agent know they're interested in talking after the season and perhaps have had some preliminary discussions. It would be premature on the Titans' part to offer a contract now and even more foolish on the part of Haynesworth and his agent to agree to a new one at this time. If Albert will be chasing the dollars, that is.
I also believe Mike Reinfeldt won't pay stupid money to keep Albert, though he will undoubtedly make a very competitive offer, probably the biggest contract he's offered since joining the Titans. For those of us who think Reinfeldt is on the cheap side, we must remember he did sign several Seahawks to large contracts, most notably Walter Jones and Shaun Alexander. Matt Hasselbeck is no slouch in that department either.
Of course, the Titans have a trump card, the franchise tag, and I imagine they'll probably have to use it. Of course, that will have to be handled delicately so Albert doesn't become disgruntled. Easier said than done. If tagged, he may very well holdout until training camp is over, then go on to have a decent, but not great year.
I'd ideally like for Haynesworth to re-sign in January or early February, but I doubt if that will happen.