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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Redskins' Dan Snyder makes another big free-agent splash

The owner signs defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a $100-million deal.

February 28, 2009|SAM FARMER

All over the NFL on Friday, coaches and executives reached for the familiar, snapping up free agents the way they might grab for a comfortable pair of blue jeans.

There were reunions in Kansas City, Denver, Minnesota and with the New York Jets. Each of those teams brought in seasoned veterans who know the system and can help teach it to younger players.

Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, also reached for the familiar: his checkbook. His team made the biggest splash of the day, signing former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a seven-year, $100-million deal with $41 million guaranteed. That makes the 27-year-old Haynesworth the highest-paid defensive player in history.

Everyone overpays in free agency, but there's no NFL shopaholic quite like Snyder, whose track record has been more about wallet than wallop. Among his high-priced experiments that have gone poof: Steve Spurrier, bringing back Joe Gibbs, Deion Sanders, Brandon Lloyd, Jeremiah Trotter, Adam Archuleta and Jason Taylor.

Maybe Haynesworth will reverse that trend. He was certainly coveted by a lot of teams, and his impact on the Titans was unquestioned. There are legitimate questions about his character, and teams have to worry about any player after rewarding him with that type of gargantuan payday. But when he's good, he's very good -- and he's coming to a team that had only 24 sacks last season.

The Redskins' other big move so far was more of a head-scratcher. They retained DeAngelo Hall by signing him to a six-year deal worth $55 million, making him the league's third-highest-paid cornerback. That's a boatload of money for a guy on his third team in six years, someone both Oakland and Atlanta were happy to bid farewell to.

Tampa Bay was the team battling the Redskins down the stretch for the services of Haynesworth. The Buccaneers didn't just sit on their billfold, either, trading for Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow. That will be an interesting move to watch, considering the way Winslow clashed with Browns management. The trade came two days after the Bucs released some of their most influential leaders, namely linebacker Derrick Brooks and running back Warrick Dunn.

Meanwhile, other teams made moves intended to help both on the field and in the locker room. The Jets signed former Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott, reuniting him with Coach Rex Ryan, longtime Ravens defensive coordinator.

In Kansas City, the stage is set for the Chiefs to trade for New England linebacker Mike Vrabel, a cornerstone of the Patriots' defense. That would reunite Vrabel and Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli, formerly Bill Belichick's personnel man.

In Denver, another ex-Patriots pairing: Coach Josh McDaniels, New England's former offensive coordinator, snapped up Jabar Gaffney, a reliable receiver with his old team. There were also reports the Broncos will sign former Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins, who spent 13 years as a defensive fixture with the Eagles.

And in Minnesota, the Vikings traded for Houston quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who will compete for the starting job with Tarvaris Jackson because Gus Frerotte was released. Rosenfels is very accurate and a good fit for Minnesota's West Coast system, especially because he now has a better running game and defense to help him.

Darrell Bevel, Vikings offensive coordinator, coached Rosenfels at Iowa State, and two key members of Minnesota's front office -- Rick Speilman and George Paton -- got to know the quarterback when they were all with the Miami Dolphins.

Inside the numbers

For a few spur-of-the-moment statistics on some of the high-profile players who switched teams Friday, I turned to Tim Bazer and Aaron Charlton of STATS LLC. They came up with these:

* Fred Taylor, who signed with New England, has averaged 4.64 yards a carry in his career. That's second among active players (with at least 750 attempts) to the 4.73 of San Francisco's Frank Gore.

* Haynesworth's 8 1/2 sacks last season tied him with Minnesota's Kevin Williams for the most by an interior lineman.

* Free-agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, formerly of Cincinnati, has the third-most receptions of any player since 2004, with 445. (Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez has 448; St. Louis' Torry Holt has 446.) Houshmandzadeh said there are four teams for whom he'd like to play: Philadelphia, Seattle, Minnesota and the New York Giants.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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