It’s a move that no one could have expected. Then again, if anyone was going to make this move it’s Bill Belichick.
That’s the continued mastery of Bill Belichick, who proved today that he doesn’t need Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli around to make risky personnel moves that might be the difference between being a playoff team and being elite.
With the Patriots announced trade for maligned defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the Patriots are taking some level of risk — something apparently that every other NFL franchise did not want to take. He’s uncoachable. He has no work ethic. He could care less about anyone else. He’ll take the money and run — or rather sit. He’s the opposite of what any NFL coach worth their money would want in the locker room. But that’s on his bad days.
Even after all of the drama in Washington, there’s not a defensive tackle that anyone would want more than Haynesworth when he’s at his best — save for Ndamukong Suh. He’s a lethal force who can beat double teams. He can single-handedly change the game and make everyone around him better. His moves have no counter. His strength and leverage are amazing. But those days are long gone, only needing them to get the major payday from the Redskins brass and owner Daniel Snyder.
But Belichick paid very little: a fifth round choice in 2013. For a team that stacks draft picks like poker chips, Belichick will have that pick replaced by tomorrow. And in the process, he’s earned the right to try the key to a lock that, when opened, reveals breakthrough results. Even if it doesn’t work out and Haynesworth remains a locker room cancer, you simply cut the guy and lose a late round choice two years from now.
But if he can return to form, Haynesworth instantly makes the Patriots the favorites in the AFC. The Pats couldn’t generate a significant enough pass rush last season and while young players like Jermaine Cunningham will continue to get better with time, the difference could be huge having a guy like Haynesworth open up rushing lanes for everyone. A young, athletic secondary could take more chances, the linebackers could be more creative and he could make it a championship caliber defense.
That’s a big if. There’s no reason to suggest Haynesworth is interested. But Belichick will figure it out, if anyone can. And that’s why turning a fifth round choice in 2013 into the second best defensive tackle in the NFL could be the next masterstroke for Belichick. Or it could simply be a wasted fifth rounder. That’s a risk worth taking.