- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2009

Albert Haynesworth is a monster. He is a monster with character issues, to be sure - he earned a five-game suspension two seasons ago for stomping on the head of an opponent.

Still, any NFL team - the Washington Redskins included - would love to sign the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Tennessee Titans defensive tackle when he becomes a free agent at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

And thanks to a last-minute increase in the salary cap to $127.05 million, the Redskins now have about $8 million in room with which compete for Haynesworth’s services.

Despite the unexpected $4.05 million bump in cap space, the Redskins still might not have the wherewithal to land Haynesworth. So if the Redskins really want him, they might be forced to swallow hard and cut cornerback Shawn Springs and his $6 million base salary even if they fail to re-sign free agent-to-be DeAngelo Hall.

Such a move is not without risk - Fred Smoot, coming off a subpar season and soon to be 30, would start at cornerback. Justin Tryon, who performed poorly in the preseason last year as a rookie and barely played in the regular season, would become the No. 3 corner.

Unless, that is, the Redskins can sign free agent Dre’ Bly for a chunk of whatever part of their $14 million Haynesworth didn’t claim.

Another option for the Redskins: Cut end Jason Taylor, a bust last season, and save $8 million. The departure of Taylor, who turns 35 this year, would mean the Redskins would need to re-sign end Phillip Daniels, who turns 36 next month and underwent knee surgery. Washington also needs to re-sign left guard Pete Kendall or bring back his much-younger predecessor, Derrick Dockery, a surprising cap casualty with the Buffalo Bills on Thursday.

But is Haynesworth worth the money and sacrifice to the Redskins? A defensive tackle isn’t one of their biggest needs.

Cornelius Griffin, Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery anchored the middle of a defense that ranked fourth overall last season and eighth against the run.

The Redskins restructured Griffin’s contract Wednesday - he’s not going anywhere this year. The club tendered restricted free agents Golston and Montgomery on Thursday for just $2.02 million combined.

Griffin, Golston and Montgomery combined for five sacks last season - 3.5 fewer than Haynesworth recorded on his own.

Still, an elite inside pass rusher is a luxury for a team that should have more-pressing concerns:

• The Redskins have no outside pass rush (ends Demetric Evans and Taylor tied for the team lead with a mere 3.5 sacks apiece).

• The defense, for now at least, is counting on 5-10 H.B. Blades to replace recently waived Marcus Washington at strongside linebacker.

• The receiving corps doesn’t have a proven No. 2 wideout (Antwaan Randle El should be a No. 3, and Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly were washouts as rookies last season).

• The offense badly needs young linemen to back up the five likely starters, all of whom will be at least 32 by October.

• The club doesn’t have a punter with NFL experience and will have to spend about $1 million to sign one.

Haynesworth recorded only 9.5 sacks in the five seasons before his breakout campaigns of 2007 and 2008 - both of which he played on one-year contracts.

Signing Haynesworth to a big-money contract would fit the classic Dan Snyder make-a-splash mold, and Snyder and Haynesworth’s agent, Chad Speck, were seen together at last week’s scouting combine in Indianapolis.

But the move just doesn’t make sense. Now if Haynesworth were an outside speed rusher like Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware…

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