TAMPA, FLA. (AP) - Albert Haynesworth didn’t stay unemployed long.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed the 350-pound defensive lineman off waivers Wednesday, one day after the two-time Pro Bowl selection was released by the New England Patriots.
General manager Mark Dominik made the announcement, saying the Bucs more than likely would not have been interested in giving Haynesworth an opportunity to revive his career if Tampa Bay (4-4) had not lost second-year pro Gerald McCoy for the season this week because of a torn right biceps.
“I would say candidly that if Gerald wasn’t hurt right now, I probably wouldn’t do this move. But because of the situation we’re in, I felt Albert Haynesworth has the best ability of any defensive tackle out there. For us and for me, it made sense as an organization to bring him on board,” Dominik said.
Haynesworth, who has 30 1/2 career sacks, emerged as one of the top tackles in the NFL during seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans. But he’s been a huge disappointment since signing a seven-year, $100 million free-agent contract with Washington in 2009, clashing repeatedly with coach Mike Shanahan during two rocky seasons with the Redskins and continuing to struggle after joining New England in a trade.
In six games with the Patriots, he had three tackles and no sacks. His last play was early in the third quarter of Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Giants when Brandon Jacobs scored on a 10-yard run.
Dominik’s interest in Haynesworth is not new.
The Bucs also were in discussions with him the night Haynesworth signed his big deal with the Redskins. Despite the tackle’s struggles since then, the GM thinks the 10th-year pro can be an effective player again because Tampa Bay runs a 4-3 defense instead of the 3-4 alignments Haynesworth was asked to play in Washington and New England.
“I think the thing I’m going to bank on a little bit here is our defense and what we ask (his position) to do,” Dominik said. “Over the last couple of seasons, he’s been in more of a 3-4 defense and two-gapping. I think he’s always felt like he’s a one-gap penetrator. The timing was what it was, and it made sense to us to put the claim in.”
McCoy, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, was injured during last Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. He was placed on injured reserve Monday, and the player the Bucs initially signed to replace him _ John McCargo _ was released Wednesday to free up a roster spot for Haynesworth.
Pressed about his expectations for Haynesworth, Dominik conceded that the tackle would be evaluated “week to week” and could find himself without a team again if he does not perform.
“I have had a chance to talk to him already,” the general manager said. “As you would hope, he’s excited and fired up. He asked, how soon can we get him a flight? He said he wants to get in tonight, so he can go to practice tomorrow. Those were his words. That’s very encouraging.”
Dominik said he did not speak with anyone from the Patriots before putting in a claim for Haynesworth. However, the GM did watch film of the 134 snaps the tackle has played this season.
Although Haynesworth left New England with unimpressive numbers, Dominik said he found more production than showed up on the stat sheet.
By the GM’s count, Haynesworth had seven quarterback pressures, was disruptive on about 15 plays and was involved in eight tackles.
“I watched every game twice. I watched how he played, his effort, his motor, what they asked him to do, what he actually did do,” Dominik said, adding that what he saw on tape was a player that can be “strong, powerful, dominating, disruptive and can overpower an opponent.”
“When I see him hit a gap or shoot a gap, he still can play football,” Dominik said. “He’s not one of these older players that really can’t play anymore. I just want him to play our way.”
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