A report from Yahoo! sports yesterday said Eagles coaches have interest in Plaxico Burress and Albert Haynesworth. We wrote a brief picking up that piece of news for today's paper and online because we figured it would be of interest, but didn't write much more because any moves for those players, and particularly Haynesworth, is still a long way away and the feeling here is that there are still long odds that either players ends up in green.
The Yahoo! report cited an unnamed Eagles source who described the thinking of Andy Reid and defensive line coach Jim Washburn. I've got no reason to doubt the quotes or that Washburn would love to be reunited with Haynesworth, who he coached to great success in Tennessee.
But there are big questions about the Eagles acquiring either man.
Start with Burress. His situation has been covered by me and many others on this site, so let's go with a quick summary: the Eagles are deep at receiver, scored a ton of points last season, were a touch above average in offensive red zone efficiency, and have no idea yet what Plax can so after two years on the shelf. In other words, they have much more pressing needs and other teams more desperate for receiver help are more are likely to offer the free agent a better deal.
Haynesworth is more intriguing, because the Eagles badly need a disruptive presence on the line and he has history with Washburn. Still, he's under contract for now. For the Eagles to get him via trade they would have to absorb a fat, uh, contract for a guy who turns 30 on Friday and who, while quite talented, showed questionable effort on the field and found trouble off it.
If the ‘Skins decide to deal him, I doubt they'd want to see him reunited with his old position coach on a division rival.
Maybe Washington can't trade Haynesworth and just cuts him. At this point, no one knows if that's where this is actually going. If it did happen, the Eagles would have to compete with contract offers from other teams. He would fit into their 4-3 scheme and it makes sense that he might make Washburn happy. But to the Eagles’ top decision makers – including Joe Banner, Howie Roseman and Andy Reid – effort and hustle are critical qualities. When invest big in a player, “love of the game” is always one of the first phrases out of their mouths. They’ll take draft picks completely off their board based on poor work ethic or attitude problems.
Haynesworth has shown both. Also, it’s worth noting that while Washburn seems to have a desire for the defensive tackle, the trifecta of top decision makers mentioned above has been very quiet about their potential targets. Those are the guys who will have to sign off on any move. Roseman was interviewed in the Yahoo! article and wouldn’t comment on specific players. The same has been true for me every time I’ve spoken with Roseman this offseason.
Obviously, we can’t rule anything out. The Eagles are not afraid to take chances and they always do their due diligence on all the options. I think all the talk from Banner, Roseman, Reid and even owner Jeffrey Lurie about making a big splash in the free agency and trade market is genuine. And yes, Washburn’s tie to Haynesworth is important.
Every position coach would love to have as many weapons as he can handle. But there’s a difference between one coach’s desire and the team's executives taking action.