Yesterday the NFL announced this year’s Pro Bowl teams. On that list is Albert Haynesworth, defensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans. By earning this recognition from his peers, a clause in Haynesworth’s contract becomes active which allows him to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
What caught my eye about this is that the contract stipulated that if Haynesworth met certain conditions, consecutive Pro Bowls being one of them, that he could become a free agent and the Titans cannot apply the franchise tag to him. Franchising a player means that the team retains his services for the next season but obligates the team to paying that player the average of the top five players at his position. I wonder what motivated the Titans to agree to eschew the franchise tag possibility. Perhaps they doubted the ability of Haynesworth to be a Pro Bowler two years in a row. Or maybe they realized that Haynesworth is already near the top five (seventh if I counted right) highest paid among defensive tackles (in total salary, see USAToday’s website) and third in counting toward the salary cap, so franchising him might save relatively little money anyway. However, his $7.25 million in total salary (base plus bonuses) pales in comparison to the $13.98 million of Tommy Kelly of the Raiders ($13.35 million of which is bonuses). In any case, Haynesworth’s big year on the field could end up costing the Titans lots of money or the anchor to their defense.
Here is an ESPN story about it.