A few days ago, while dealing with the boredom of the timeframe prior to the start of training camp, I spent some time reading an interesting article about former Tennessee Titan/current Washington Redskin Albert Haynesworth.
What stood out to me was “Fat Albert’s” not-so-kind words about Titan management. In addition to his frustration over the Titans failing to add an extra $1 million to their offer to him last summer, Haynesworth also made the following statement about the team’s tendency of not re-signing defensive linemen after the completion of their first contracts:
“I lasted longer than any defensive linemen that’s ever played for [Tennessee coach] Jeff [Fisher],” Haynesworth said. “They want to pay offensive linemen all this money, but they think they can just get by on the defensive line. That’s fine, that’s their business. Whatever…
In light of Albert’s “angry” words, let’s take a look at how the team has fared as a result of their decisions to allow promising defensive lineman to venture to greener pastures.
In the article, Albert specifically mentions five D-linemen who were allowed to leave after their first contracts expired: Jevon Kearse, Carlos Hall, Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom and John Thornton.
For today’s history lesson, let’s take a peek at their performances since leaving the confines of Nashville.
After accumulating an impressive 47.5 sacks during his first five years as a Titan, Kearse fled to Philadelphia courtesy of a lucrative free agent contract extended to him by the Eagles.
In four frustrating/injury-plagued seasons playing in the “City of Brotherly Love”, Kearse’s sack production fell dramatically, as he took down opposing quarterbacks only 22 times during that time span.
Filling in for an injured Kearse, Hall broke out as an unheralded rookie in 2002 with his eight-sack performance. After five and a half more sacks combined from 2003-2004, Hall was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Failing to live up to his promising start, Hall only accumulated a measly one sack since his departure from the Titans.
Injuries and inconsistency plagued LaBoy during his first years in the league with the Titans. Despite his penchant for getting after opposing quarterbacks, a variety of different ailments prevented him from reaching his potential in Nashville.
After a six-sack performance during a contract year, in 2008, LaBoy’s dreams of free agency wishes were fullfilled by the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately for Travis, injuries plagued him last year and earlier this offseason, the Cardinals released him.
Odom had his best season as a Titan at the right time in 2007, notching eight sacks and establishing himself as one of the premier defensive ends on the free agent market in 2008. Odom’s parlayed his impressive contract-year performance into a lucrative new deal with the Bengals.
In his first season in Cincy, Odom amassed a total of only three sacks. That’s an extreme lack of production for a guy who signed a five-year deal worth close to $30 million.
Last but not least, Thornton is the only guy on this list who has had a rather solid career since departing Nashville. He’s been a steady presence on the Bengals’ defensive line since arriving there in 2003.
So you see, Albert, allowing the likes of Odom, LaBoy and Hall to leave weren’t exactly bad decisions by your former employer.
Don’t get me wrong: Haynesworth is a rare talent who will be missed by the Titans. The cat-like quickness of a man of his stature and his sheer power will be hard to replace.
However, as the aforementioned list of defensive linemen who failed to get second contracts in Nashville indicates, the Titans have continued to produce solid defensive lines despite missing the presence of the guys who have left.
Therefore, instead of using the likes of Odom, LaBoy and Kearse as a means of venting his frustration towards the decision-making of Titan management, Albert needs to do what it takes to avoid following in the footsteps of many of the former Titan defensive linemen who quickly realized that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side.