- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2009

Seven hours after re-signing cornerback DeAngelo Hall, the Washington Redskins agreed to terms with one of the best available free agents on this year’s market.

Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has agreed to terms with the Redskins and was introduced at a press conference Friday.

This comes after the Redskins re-signed DeAngelo Hall to a six-year, $54 million contract that includes $22.5 million in guaranteed money. The club on Friday cut cornerback Shawn Springs, a move that saves $6 million needed to sign Haynesworth.

Terms for Haynesworth’s deal weren’t available, but ESPN reported that the deal was for seven years, $100 million — with $41 million of that guaranteed. It would be the richest contract in NFL history for a defensive lineman.

Haynesworth was expected to be locked up by a team in the opening hour of free agency, which began at 12:01 a.m. Friday. But a number of teams expressed interest and talks extended through the night.

Haynesworth, the top rated defensive lineman to hit the open market and the second-ranked defensive player behind Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, comes to the Redskins after playing the first seven years of his career with the Titans. He’s had one head coach (Jeff Fisher) and one defensive coordinator (Jim Schwartz).

The first-round pick from the University of Tennessee comes to the Redskins with question marks about his durability, production and character.

Durability: He’s played all 16 games only once his rookie year when he was a part-time player. In the last six years, he’s played 12, 10, 14, 11, 13 and 14 regular season games. He has been sidelined because of elbow, knee and hamstring injuries.

Production: Only in the last two years has he become a consistent pass rushing threat with 14.5 of his 24 career sacks. But Haynesworth does have four years of at least 60 tackles.

Character: Haynesworth was suspended for five games in 2006 for twice stomping on the head of a helmet-less Andre Gurode during a game against the Dallas Cowboys. Gurode required 30 stitches to close the wound and Haynesworth’s suspension (which cost him $190,000) was, at the time, the longest ban for an on-field action in league history. The next year, he was involved in an incident with teammate Justin Hartwig.

But Haynesworth saved his two most productive seasons as he headed into free agency.

In 2007, he tied a career high with 23 quarterback pressures to go with 69 tackles and six sacks.

And last year, he was a dominant player — 75 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 19 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles.

Before Haynesworth’s contract, the largest given to a defensive lineman was last year when Oakland’s Tommy Kelly signed a 7-year, $50.5 million contract to stay with the Raiders ($18.125 million guaranteed). He responded with only 4.5 sacks.

Haynesworth ended the year saying he wouldn’t take a hometown discount to remain with the Titans but most figured he could command something in the $12.5-$15 million range, which would have kept Tennessee in play.

But Carolina placed the franchise tag on defensive end Julius Peppers, which guarantees him a $17 million salary if he signs the tender and Oakland signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha signed an insane 3-year, $45 million contract. That and the number of teams interested in Haynesworth’s services drove up his price.

Although the Redskins and Titans run the 4-3 defense, there will be a transition for Haynesworth. In Greg Blache’s scheme, the defensive linemen are expected to play disciplined against the run by taking up blockers and letting the linebackers shoot the gaps. Tennessee’s system allowed Haynesworth to be aggressive at the snap, which accounted for his sack total.

The deal with Hall, which was confirmed by a league source, was finalized at 11:55 p.m., and the $54 million contract includes $22.5 million guaranteed money and a whopping $30 million in the first three seasons. He will be re-introduced at a Monday press conference.

Hall’s signing was the Redskins’ first major move.

Hall joined the Redskins halfway through the season and quickly became a starter and an offseason priority.

“I feel great,” Hall said. “This is the team I always wanted to play for, and it feels good to have it done.”

Hall signed a seven-year, $70 million contract last March with the Oakland Raiders but was released halfway through the season and quickly signed with the Redskins. He made 27 tackles, intercepted two passes and broke up seven others.

Springs, a favorite of owner Dan Snyder, caused consternation among his teammates and coaches when he didn’t attend most offseason workouts. He now leaves Washington with no hard feelings.

“They had to do what they had to,” said Springs, a graduate of Springbrook High School who turns 34 next month. “I expected this even if they hadn’t re-signed [cornerback DeAngelo Hall]. I’m glad I had a chance to play in my hometown for five years. Not many guys can do that. I feel good. I’m not mad at all. The Redskins have a great organization. Virginia is still going to be my home when I’m done playing.”

Springs, who came to Washington in 2004 as a free agent from Seattle, said he hadn’t talked to defensive coordinator Greg Blache since his release, but had exchanged cordial text messages with cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray.

Springs might well be headed to the cornerback-needy New England Patriots, who certainly have a better track record than the Redskins.

“I feel good,” said Springs, who missed 16 games with injuries the past three season. “I know I can still play. I hope there are some teams that feel that way, too.”

David Elfin contributed to this report.

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