The Washington Redskins have traded maligned defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth to the New England Patriots for a 2013 fifth-round draft choice, according to a source with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because the team has not publicized the deal. ESPN first reported the trade.
The trade comes hours just hours before a mandatory midday team meeting is scheduled to mark the start of training camp.
It ends of one of the ugliest chapters in owner Daniel Snyder’s 12-year tenure and is the final act of a drama that kept a stranglehold on the Redskins‘ locker room since late in the 2009 season.
Haynesworth departs as perhaps the biggest free-agent bust in NFL history. Former front office chief Vinny Cerrato in February 2009 signed him to a seven-year, $100 million contract that included $41 million guaranteed. It was the most guaranteed money ever in a free-agent contract.
He became disgruntled because of how former coach Jim Zorn and former defensive coordinator Greg Blache utilized him. His relationship with management deteriorated further shortly after coach Mike Shanahan was hired and installed a 3-4 alignment in 2010.
Haynesworth in March 2010 balked at playing in the Redskins‘ 3-4 defense and fell out with Shanahan that June after he skipped a mandatory minicamp. Shanahan eventually suspended Haynesworth without pay for the final four games of the 2010 regular season, at which point Haynesworth refused to speak to Shanahan.
Many Redskins veterans were relieved when Haynesworth was removed from the locker room last December so they could stop answering questions about him. None wanted the sideshow to carry over into the 2011 season because the drama surrounding him was symbolic of the dysfunction the franchise is hoping to put in the past.
“Last year, man, and in the years previous, we talked too much about individuals that had problems with the organization instead of trying to go out there and perform well,” Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo said on Tuesday. “It just harps on you at times.
“It’s something we need to do this year — forget about all the nonsense and all the negativity and just focus as a team, man. We need to stop talking about being a great team and actually start doing some action out here and preparing as a great team.”
He was scheduled to earn a base salary of $5.4 million in 2011.
Washington is now free of the two biggest sideshows that marred their 6-10 season a year ago. The Redskins traded deposed starting quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday night. It’s possible that the team will announce both trades Thursday.