Albert Haynesworth walked into the front lobby of Redskins Park on the first day of free agency. After being congratulated by front-office chief Vinny Cerrato, the All-Pro defensive tackle turned and introduced his mother.
Once the pleasantries were done, the parties went to work -- completing the paperwork on a seven-year contract that is worth about $100 million and includes an NFL-record $41 million in guaranteed money.
The Washington Redskins were back to their old form as champions of the offseason, snagging the biggest name available in the first few hours of the open market. They agreed to terms with Haynesworth around dawn Friday, culminating a sleepless night that included a just-after-midnight deal -- six years, $54 million, $22.5 million guaranteed -- to re-sign cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
"Wow! Amazing!" said Redskins defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander, providing the almost universal reaction to Haynesworth's guaranteed payout, which tops the $37 million the Atlanta Falcons gave Michael Vick in 2004.
All this from a team that has laid off at least 30 people since the start of the year in two rounds of cutbacks. The Redskins are among 10 to 12 teams that have cut staff because of the economic crisis, according to an NFL estimate, but marquee free agents appear recession-proof.
Not so fortunate was Shawn Springs. Expensive and often injured, the 33-year-old cornerback was deemed no longer needed once Hall was kept in the fold.
From Bruce Smith in 2000 to London Fletcher in 2007, the Redskins' Dan Snyder made his NFL name as the owner who always got the player he wanted, even if it meant overpaying for players who didn't pan out. Snyder's deep pockets have produced only one playoff win this decade.
Last year, the team was uncharacteristically quiet, making no major signings during the entire free agency period. An 8-8 season with an aging roster -- along with the fact that the Redskins have only four picks in upcoming draft -- prompted Snyder to revert to his old ways.
Whatever the money, the Redskins get credit for targeting two deficiencies from last season: sacks and turnovers.
Haynesworth should help with the sacks. The 27-year-old lineman got to the quarterback a career-high 8.5 times last year, more than one-third of a Washington team total (24) that ranked tied for 28th in the NFL. If nothing else, he will divert attention away from defensive ends Jason Taylor and Andre Carter, who managed 7.5 sacks between them in 2008.
"We are excited to sign a player of Albert's caliber to our football team," Redskins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said in a statement released by the team. "Albert is one of the most dominant and physical players in the National Football League and has been an All-Pro the past two seasons. He is an imposing force who will make an immediate impact on our football team."
Haynesworth, 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, has 24 sacks in seven NFL seasons since the Titans drafted him in the first round out of the University of Tennessee in 2002. His possible downsides: He hasn't played a full season since his rookie year because of various injuries, he's been known to take plays off, and he might never live down a five-game suspension for swiping his cleated foot over Dallas center Andre Gurode's face in 2006.
The suspension is the NFL's longest for an on-field act, and Haynesworth was also required to attend anger management sessions. Now, having signed with an NFC East team, Haynesworth will face Gurode twice a year.
"Albert is a difference maker and his physical presence will strengthen our defense," Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. "He is a significant addition to our team and we are excited to have a player of his ability and toughness as a member of the Redskins."
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 to clear money for the upcoming season. The team also saved money under the cap by releasing linebacker Marcus Washington last week.
Hall will be getting paid to get picks. His five interceptions for the season -- three with Oakland, two with Washington -- were three more than any other cornerback on the Redskins' roster. Washington had only 18 takeaways in 2008, tied for 28th in the league.
The 25-year-old cornerback is also netting his second big payday in as many years. He signed a seven-year, $70 million contract 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. He was also a model citizen, avoiding the outbursts that prompted the Atlanta Falcons to trade him to Oakland in 2008.
With Springs released, Hall and Carlos Rogers are now expected to form the new starting cornerback tandem.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report