There’s a funny thing about opportunities. They’re never missed, and they’re never lost. Like when the Ravens traded third- and fourth-round picks for Anquan Boldin. Or, when the Jets parted with a paltry fifth-round selection for Santonio Holmes. And that time the Dolphins swapped two second-rounders for Brandon Marshall.
Opportunities are never missed, they’re just taken by others.
While I credit the Buccaneer front office for sticking to their philosophy regarding veteran players on the trading block, I’d feel a bit more confident if the plan was more complex than not getting involved at all.
But it’s not too late.
With 11 picks in Thursday’s draft, the Bucs are equipped not only to build by drafting young talent; they’re armed to exploit a still booming trade market.
Last season’s opportunity: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The Bucs offered him a contract, but the Redskins seized the opportunity, signing Haynesworth to deal nearly identical to that offered by Tampa Bay. The landscape in Washington has changed arguably more than any this offseason. The greatest change, however, was bringing in Mike Shanahan as head coach. Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett plan to run a 3-4 defense. Haynesworth, unhappy with the change, told Shanahan he does not plan to attend voluntary workouts.
"He came in and sat down and talked to me. We had a good conversation. I’m just going to let time go by … and hope Albert’s in great shape and ready to go full speed," Shanahan said. "I’m looking for guys that are going to get it done on the field."
Haynesworth is still absent from voluntary workouts, and mandatory camp does not start until mid-June.
"He’s gonna have to play all three positions," Haslett said. "He’ll play end, he’ll play tackle. So, you know, hopefully he comes soon, because there is a lot to learn."
But the Redskins may not wait.
The NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reported early this week that the Redskins intend to make a big move this week, and that shipping off Haynesworth is the best bet. Washington currently holds just one draft pick in the top 101, where the Bucs have five picks. The Redskins are reportedly looking for either a second- or third-round pick in return for Haynesworth.
Clearly, the Bucs have their sights set on defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy, whoever is left with the third overall pick. Tampa Bay ranked dead last against the run in 2009, allowing almost five yards per carry and 158 per game. With wide receiver and safety two other problem areas that need attention, drafting either Suh or McCoy and brining in Haynesworth, complimenting tackles Roy Miller, Kyle Moore and Dre Moore, all 24 or younger, would solidify the position enough to devote the remaining picks to other problem areas.
So, how do you get a guy like Haynesworth, anyhow?
The Redskins say they want a third-round pick, which means that under the pressure of draft day, it will likely have to be a second-rounder or a package deal with a later pick and a player. Both are scenarios likely for the Bucs to entertain.
Tampa Bay has two second-round picks (35th and 42nd overall) and one third-round (67th overall). A straight-up trade for the 42nd is feasible, but general manager Mark Dominik will likely keep the 35th, especially if safety Taylor Mays or wide receiver Demaryius Thomas falls out of the first round.
Washington’s greatest needs are offensive line and wide receiver. Long-time offensive tackle Chris Samuels retired in the offseason, and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El returned to Pittsburgh in free agency, leaving gaps at both positions. Without Haynesworth, they would also need a nose tackle or defensive end to fit in their 3-4 scheme. Nose tackles Cam Thomas, Terrence Cody and Linval Joseph could be there in the second round for the Redskins’ taking.
The Bucs could also package a player with their third- or fourth-round selection. Someone to address the Redskins’ defensive tackle or wide receiver needs. Someone like Ryan Sims or Michael Clayton. Sims, 29, is a former first-round pick who will likely lose his starting position to Roy Miller sooner than later, and Michael Clayton is due a large contract and is in desperate need of a fresh start.
That would, of course, leave Tampa Bay with virtually no depth at wide receiver, but hey, we’re used to that.
Haynesworth, 28, recorded 37 tackles and four sacks in 12 games for a Washington defense that finished 16th against the run and 10th in total defense. There are questions about character and concerns about injury, which begs the question of why we would want him in the first place. He is a proven player who Miller and either Suh or McCoy (unless something goes terribly wrong on draft day) can learn under while he plays out his remaining few seasons in Raheem Morris’s defensive rotation.
Is it risky? Yes. Is is expensive? Maybe. Is it worth a shot? Absolutely.
An opportunity to land Albert Haynesworth will likely present itself during Thursday’s NFL Draft: A second chance for the Bucs to make a move they should have made in 2009. And if Dominik takes a pass, he will not have missed that chance or lost that opportunity. Someone else will have taken it.