WASHINGTON -- Moving swiftly in the first hours of free agency, the Washington Redskins opened their deep pockets and snagged perhaps the biggest name available: All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
The longtime Tennessee Titans defensive tackle agreed to a seven-year deal worth approximately $100 million early Friday morning. The Redskins, known for their expediency in such matters, wasted no time scheduling a 5 p.m. ET news conference for their latest marquee signing.
Haynesworth's deal came within hours of another Redskins blockbuster: a six-year, $54 million agreement to re-sign cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
A stout, sack-producing interior lineman is just what the Redskins have needed. Haynesworth had a career-high 8.5 sacks last year, more than one-third of Washington's team total (24). The 27-year-old lineman is 6-foot-6, weighs 320 pounds and has 24 sacks in seven NFL seasons since the Titans drafted him in the first round out of the University of Tennessee in 2002.
Haynesworth last year also had 75 tackles, 22 quarterback pressures, seven tackles for a loss and forced a team-high four fumbles.
The moves for Haynesworth and Hall marked a return to form for Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who for much of the decade has won the unofficial NFL offseason title with big-money signings, often negotiated within hours of the midnight start of free agency. The team was uncharacteristically quiet last year -- no major deals at all during the entire free agency period -- but an 8-8 season with an aging roster left holes to fill.
It was uncertain whether the Redskins would be able to fit Haynesworth under the salary cap, but the front office spent this month renegotiating several contracts of current players to clear money for the upcoming season. The team also saved money under the cap by releasing linebacker Marcus Washington.
Hall's deal includes $22.5 million in guaranteed money, giving the 25-year-old cornerback his second big payday in as many years. He was guaranteed around $24 million in a seven-year, $70 million contract he signed a year ago with Oakland, but he struggled to adjust to the Raiders' man-to-man defense and was waived after eight games.
The Redskins picked him up less than a week later, and he provided a needed boost to a secondary beset by too many injuries and not enough big plays. Hall played in seven games and started the last four, eventually moving ahead of Carlos Rogers on the depth chart.
Hall's five interceptions for the season -- three with Oakland, two with Washington -- were three more than any other cornerback on the Redskins roster. He was a model citizen during his short time in the nation's capital, avoiding the type of temperamental outbursts that prompted the Atlanta Falcons to trade him to Oakland in 2008.
Hall therefore became a top offseason priority, with Snyder wanting to work a deal before the cornerback had a chance to test the free agent market. The negotiations with Hall's agents, Alvin Keels and Joel Segal, went to the last minute -- and maybe a little beyond.
Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press