Desperation was a factor behind the Buccaneers' decision to roll the dice on underachieving DT Albert Haynesworth this week.
Bucs GM Mark Dominik — who has a track record of going against the grain and being rewarded for doing so — has said he would not have claimed the 350-pound 10th-year veteran off waivers from the Patriots if the Bucs' starting under tackle, Gerald McCoy, hadn't gone down with a season-ending biceps tear in Week Nine. Tampa Bay is badly in need of a difference maker at the position with McCoy sidelined, and a thorough review of Haynesworth's performance this season gave Dominik confidence that he still has the potential to be dominant.
Haynesworth was named an All-Pro in back-to-back seasons before opting to sign with the Redskins instead of the Buccaneers, who made a push to land him as a free agent, in 2009. He flopped in Washington and was at odds with head coach Mike Shanahan before being shipped to the Patriots prior to this season, making little impact in the six games he played for New England.
It's risky to bring in a player with a reputation for giving poor effort and the potential to become a distraction for a young team, but we hear Bucs players appeared to be, at the very least, receptive to the addition of Haynesworth. In fact, some observers say it had the appearance of energizing a team that is slumping, having lost two games in a row and three of its last four while falling behind the Falcons and Saints in the NFC South race. Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris, who is consulted by Dominik before the Bucs make personnel decisions, went out on a limb — the Bucs were the only team to put in a claim on Haynesworth — and we're told some players took it as reinforcement that, despite their struggles, management believes they can make a push for a spot in the playoffs.
The financial obligation for Haynesworth wasn't prohibitive — the Bucs are on the hook to pay the $706,000 he's due for the remainder of the season — and Dominik and Morris are extremely confident that the leadership and culture they have helped build can withstand even if Haynesworth ends up being more trouble than he's worth. Dominik is willing to cut bait if there are signs of trouble.
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