Haynesworth primed to become UFA in 2009

In July, Albert Haynesworth and the Tennessee Titans agreed on an incentive-laden one-year deal that would keep him in Nashville for at least another season.  

To avoid having the pesky franchise tag placed upon him in 2009, Haynesworth only needed to meet one of four possible incentives that would allow him to go to the highest bidder as an unrestricted free agent next year.  

With four games remaining on the schedule, the writing is undoubtedly on the wall: the Titans are going to have to pony up on a lucrative long-term deal to retain big #92’s services beyond 2008.

As I’ve already mentioned, Al only needed to meet one of four attainable (IMO) incentives to become a UFA in 09:

Make the Pro Bowl

Through 12 games, Albert has already notched a career-high 8.5 sacks. He’s also nine tackles from surpassing his current career-best of 52 total tackles in a season.  

I’m no psychic, but I see pineapples and hulas in Al’s immediate future.

Play in 60% of the team’s defensive snaps.

Al hasn’t missed a game or a start in 2008.

Play in 53% of the team’s defensive snaps and the Titans win 10 games.

This incentive was no match for the combination of Al’s durability and the Titans’ impressive, 11-1 record.

Play in 53% of the team’s defensive snaps and the Titans finish as one of the league’s top five defenses.

Coincidentally, the Titans are currently the league’s 5th best defensive unit. The stars have definitely aligned in Al’s favor.

Albert Haynesworth has transformed from a petulant underachiever to one of the game’s most dominant defensive linemen. Similar to how he probably reigned supreme at the Thanksgiving dinner table, barring injury, Haynesworth has likely devoured all four of his contract incentives.

Consequently, the ball is now in the Titans’ court. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, Mike Reinfeldt is probably pondering, “To pay or not to pay Al, that is the question.”

My answer: The Titans should reward the big fella with a big contract extension.   

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