If he had it to do over again, Albert Haynesworth wishes he would have stayed a Tennessee Titan.
While Haynesworth got a $100 million payday ($41 million guaranteed) from the Washington Redskins, it sent his career down a path he would rather have not traveled as he bounced from the Redskins to New England and now to Tampa Bay where the Bucs plucked him off waivers just over two weeks ago.
“Guys have definitely got to be careful of that,” Haynesworth warned. “Before you go and you think that the grass is going to be greener on the other side, look back at where you played your ball at and see if you maybe you can work something out with them.”
Haynesworth was franchised by the Titans in 2007 and then again in 2008 with the promise from Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt that he would not be franchised again after that season. Haynesworth said Wednesday in a conference call with Tennessee media, and a report by the Nashville City Paper in 2009 also indicated, that the Titans never made another formal offer to him once he hit free agency.
“It would have been great. I read in the paper there in Washington that Reinfeldt said that he offered not as much as Washington, but offered 20 percent less,” Haynesworth said. “I told my agent, 'No, if you'd offered 20 percent less, I'd still be wearing that blue.' That never happened. Everything happens for a reason. I'm here and I'm extremely happy (in Tampa) and I love the coaches and the facility and the players.
“I never got a contract offer my franchise year, my last year. The last offer I got was like in July.”
According to Haynesworth that deal was for $32 million over five years.
Haynesworth's agent Chad Speck did meet face-to-face with Reinfeldt at the NFL Combine in 2009, with a supposed offer on the table, but no formal proposal for a deal that would have been worth $40 million ($28 million guaranteed) ever materialized.
“I have no ill will or anything against Tennessee. I'm just hoping it will be a good game (Sunday). If we were talking about the Redskins, then it would be definitely a lot different. I feel like I left Tennessee on a good note and really enjoyed everybody there. I have no ill feeling toward anybody there,” Haynesworth said.
Haynesworth said he believes he has found happiness with the Bucs, who were in the running for his services when he opted to sign with the Redskins.
“The only thing I wish, was like I told them here, that I wish I'd came here first. But of course, if it had worked out in Tennessee, I would have like to have stayed. I would have picked Tennessee over Washington, but they didn't really make an effort to try and get me or even to pursue me,” he said. “I didn't even get an offer. That hurt a little bit. But since I did leave, I wish I'd come to Tampa Bay, because this is the place for me.”
Haynesworth almost immediately clashed with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan who arrived in Washington in 2010 with the intent of making Haynesworth a 3-4 nose tackle. Just last week, Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said he questioned as to whether Haynesworth really loved football or not. Haynesworth said Wednesday that he loves playing football, but not the situation in Washington.
“You guys know that I loved playing football there, and that was my outlet, and I love playing football here,” Haynesworth said. “The Patriots, it was hard, but I liked being at the complex and the facility. At Washington, it really wasn't about football. It's not that I didn't love football, but I didn't really care a whole lot about being there, the way things were in the complex and around town.
“I don't think Chris was trying to bash me or anything like that. I've had great conversations with Chris and still consider him a friend of mine. I think he was just seeing kind of the way I was acting toward them when I was there, the mood that they almost forced on you, it was crazy. Now that we're to just playing football and having fun and getting off the ball and creating problems in the backfield, I enjoy it.”
Another thing Haynesworth said that he enjoyed was his little self-created rivalry with Texans QB Matt Schaub. When he was with Tennessee, he often remarked how the Texans were better with Sage Rosenfels at quarterback over Schaub.
In his Tampa debut against the Texans, he renewed acquaintances, and actually fell on Schaub's foot putting Schaub out for the season with a Lis Franc injury in his foot.
Asked if he remembered the play, Haynesworth said, “Yeah, it was on the goal line. He actually screamed like normal.”