- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 28, 2009

The economy is in a tailspin - but not at Redskin Park.

After atypically not registering on NFL radar screens last winter, the Washington Redskins made easily the biggest splash of the first day of free agency Friday, giving former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth a record $41 million in guaranteed money as part of a seven-year, $100 million contract. The deal came less than four hours after the Redskins retained cornerback DeAngelo Hall with a six-year, $54 million deal that includes $22.5 million guaranteed.

The Redskins completed a wild first day by bringing back left guard Derrick Dockery with a five-year, $26.5 million contract that includes $8 million guaranteed. Dockery, a third-round pick in the 2003 draft, was a Redskins starter for four years before leaving for Buffalo’s seven-year, $49 million offer in March 2007. Dockery will reclaim the job filled the past two years by Pete Kendall, a free agent whom the Redskins won’t re-sign.

Also Friday, the Redskins cut cornerback Shawn Springs because he earns $6 million in base salary and will turn 34 next month. Hall and holdover Carlos Rogers are set to start at corner.

“I called [DeAngelo] up and said, ‘You waited until the 11th hour,’ ” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “We ended up getting things done with DeAngelo, and we went to work. To put a contract like [Haynesworth’s] together, it took a lot of creativeness from [owner] Dan Snyder, [vice president of football administration] Eric Schaffer and [executive vice president] Vinny Cerrato.”

It also took winning a bidding war with the Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to land Haynesworth. Unlike his hero Reggie White, Haynesworth didn’t make a round of free agent visits. He researched the teams and their cities on the Internet. So even though the Bucs had plenty of cap room and topped the Redskins’ offer, they came up short.

With the team’s three Super Bowl trophies prominently displayed, Haynesworth said he sees the Redskins on the cusp of returning to greatness.

“What you can kinda expect out of me is what you saw I did at Tennessee those last two years,” Haynesworth said.

That kind of production would be just fine with the Redskins, who last season had an NFC-low 24 sacks.

“He’s an explosive, powerful guy,” defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin said. “It will be great to play next to him. We definitely upgraded our defensive line.”

Indeed, Washington’s top three ends in 2008 - Andre Carter, Jason Taylor and Demetric Evans, a free agent not expected back - combined for 12 sacks and 99 tackles.

“In our defense, to have a corner that can cover is extremely important because we play a lot of man, so it was key to get DeAngelo,” Cerrato said. “And… pass rush up the middle is what we were looking for because if you can get pressure on the quarterback up the middle, he can’t step up, he’s got to go side to side and those [outside] guys will get a lot more sacks. And it helps the run defense because [Albert will] take two or three blockers every time.”

Haynesworth has never started more than 14 games, missing time with elbow, knee and hamstring injuries. Kedric Golston, tendered Thursday at a second-round compensation level, and Anthony Montgomery, tendered at a fifth-round level, provide plenty of depth along with Lorenzo Alexander.

“It’s an amazing signing,” Golston said. “He’s a special type of player. I’m just excited to be able to watch him play and try to learn something from him.”

The Redskins learned they had to sweeten their offer to Hall or he would’ve hit the market as the top free agent corner and perhaps signed with the New England Patriots.

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

Springs expected that he was done in Washington, especially after Hall re-signed.

“They had to do what they had to do,” Springs said. “I’m glad I had a chance to play in my hometown for five years. Not many guys can do that. 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.”

Haynesworth’s $7.9 million salary cap cost and Hall’s $5.2 million left Washington about $1 million under the cap, far from enough to afford Dockery. So defensive end Jason Taylor might have to re-work his $8 million base salary mostly into signing bonus to save nearly $6 million.

With money that tight, Washington canceled a planned visit by Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty, won’t sign a front-line punter to compete with the inexperienced Zac Atterberry and will find a replacement for linebacker Marcus Washington in the draft.

• Staff writer Ryan O’Halloran contributed to this article.

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