- The Redskins have suspended Albert Haynesworth for the remaining four games of the season, a move that will cost him $847,000 in lost salary. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
Update 5:19 p.m. -- Albert Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck, says that his client was "shocked" today when Bruce Allen informed him of Mike Shanahan's decision to suspend him without pay for the remainder of the season.
Speck released the following statement on the suspension:
"I have reviewed the Notice of Suspension letter sent to Albert by Bruce Allen as well as the comments made by Coach Shanahan. Albert and I have discussed the claims made in the Notice of Suspension and we disagree with the Redskins' decision.
"He was surprised by the suspension, the maximum permitted under the CBA, and will certainly appeal it. The accusations made by Coach Shanahan and Bruce Allen are vague and without merit. Since training camp began, today's notice was the first that Albert received informing him that his conduct was not consistent with the "terms of his contract" as Coach Shanahan claims.
"Bruce confirmed to me today, that there have been no other letters or formal notices of any kind sent to Albert during the regular season suggesting that he was engaging in conduct detrimental to the team.
"We will begin the appeal process immediately and expect the facts to come to light during arbitration. Albert has repeatedly asked for a bigger role in the defense -- he simply wants to play and maximize his contribution to the team. It is unfortunate that he has not been utilized more, as the Redskins defense causes more turnovers and gives up fewer total yards, rushing yards, passing yards, first downs, third down conversions and points when Albert plays in the game."
Published 2:54 p.m. -- In hitting notorious defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth with a suspension that will force him out of the remaining four games of the season and cause him to forfeit $847,000 of pay, the Washington Redskins have contrived a punishment that makes Haynesworth suffer as much as possible.
Haynesworth has been on shaky footing with the franchise ever since Mike Shanahan took over and decided to go with a 3-4 defense, which the two-time Pro Bowl player was adverse to playing. The clashes between player and coach have been well documented. From conditioning tests, to demotions poor practice habits and deactivations, the Redskins have had a mounting case against Haynesworth.
When Haynesworth in April cashed the $21 million bonus check rather than agreeing to forfeit it in exchange for his free agency, Shanahan settled in for a long, bitter fight. The team refused to trade Haynesworth for what they deemed as unworthy offers (mid- to late-round picks rather than a high pick or multiple picks), and rather than cut Haynesworth, Shanahan continued to keep the Big Fella on a very short leash.
When Haynesworth failed to conform to Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s wishes that he learn the nose tackle position in the 3-4 defense, Washington would’ve been well within its rights to cut Haynesworth and rid themselves of reoccurring headaches.
But instead, they kept him in the fold, dressed him eight of their 12 games (one of the four de-activations was because his brother died, but the other were for disciplinary reasons stemming from poor practice performances).
The latest installment of the saga came when Shanahan deactivated Haynesworth on Sunday after he was late for a team meeting on Friday and missed that day’s practice because of an illness (depending on who you talk to, flu or hangover) and for poor practice on Thursday. Speculation arose that the Redskins would cut Haynesworth, but they didn’t.
Instead, they suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team, citing trespasses such as refusing to cooperate with the coaching staff, refusing to play in the base 3-4 defense, refusing to follow instructions in practices and also telling Allen he would no longer be speaking with Mike Shanahan.
The move begs the question as to why now and not earlier this season. Redskins players and league insiders believe that Shanahan & Co. must have been building a case against Haynesworth for some time now, but continued to hold out hope that even on a limited basis, he could help them win.
But now, with Washington owning a 5-7 record and eliminated from the playoff picture, the season is lost. Friday’s incident, coupled with Haynesworth’s tirade on a radio interview with 106.7 The Fan on Monday night, and his claim that he would no longer be speaking with Shanahan all added up to be the last straw.
The timing of the suspension also has to do with Shanahan not wanting to let Haynesworth off the hook.
“If they didn’t suspend him, they could’ve cut him at some point this season, but then he would’ve filed for termination pay, and he would’ve been able to sign with any team he wanted,” says NFL analyst J.I. Halsell, who runs SalaryCap101.com and used to work in Washington’s front office. “Whatever team he signed with would’ve paid him, too. So, why give him the chance for more pay? ... By suspending him and keeping him from playing elsewhere, they make him suffer, and he doesn’t get a pay check. He might end up getting that salary after the appeals process and it goes to arbitration, but this was the way that didn’t let him off easily.”
There’s a chance the Redskins could try to go after some of the bonus money they gave Haynesworth, but it’s not yet clear if they will attempt to do so or not.
Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck, through a secretary, said that he and his client will release a statement later this evening. But in all likelihood, Haynesworth will appeal the suspension so he has a chance recoup the remaining $847,000 left on his 2010 base salary of roughly $3.6 million. His agent would file a grievance through the NFL Players Association, and they likely would argue on his behalf, and the case would go to independent arbitrator, not the NFL commissioner, because it is a team disciplinary matter.
The NFLPA likely would argue that Haynesworth’s actions weren’t egregious enough to warrant such a drastic punishment right off the bat, and that instead, the Redskins should have gradually worked their way up to this, hitting him with a one-game suspension first, and then if he didn’t respond, go with more drastic measures.
It will be interesting to see how hard the NFLPA fights for Haynesworth, however.
Earlier this season, NFLPA President Kevin Mawae was asked to weigh in on Haynesworth’s dispute with the Redskins and appeared to have little sympathy. He said in an interview on Sirius NFL Radio, “I mean, if you don’t want to be there don’t take the $21 million contract. How things turned out it’s no surprise to guys that have played with him in Tennessee.”
The arbitrator almost always rules in favor of a player, and there’s a good chance the Redskins will have to wind up paying Haynesworth the remaining $847,000. But the appeals process is a drawn-out matter, and for now, he will sit at home with no check coming to him.
Another plus for the Redskins is, by placing Haynesworth on the suspended reserve list, they now have an extra roster spot, which allows them to either promote a practice squad player, or bring in another player to evaluate for the future in the final four games.
Those within the organization are breathing a sigh of relief now that the Redskins have rid themselves of Haynesworth -- at least for now. They will address his future -- whether they trade or cut him -- in the offseason. But his teammates no longer have his episodes hanging over their heads.
“I hate to see any player suspended, especially someone who went to battle with us. It’s sad that it didn’t work out, but hopefully he’ll land on his feet. It’s a sad day for all of us,” said Phillip Daniels, who at 37 and in his 15th season is the locker room elder statesman. “It has been a distraction. When you play football, you want to be able to do everything you can and be able to focus on nothing but football with no outside distractions. But it was just every other week, something else was happening.
“My main thing was, I wanted him to just go out and play for his teammates. Don’t worry about whatever problems you had with management, and just play for your teammates,” Daniels continued. “But unfortunately, Albert wasn’t able to do that. We all know things happen and every situation isn’t perfect, but you’ve got to fight through it and go out and play. Like I said, you hate to see a guy suspended, but Albert brought this on himself.”