Talks on a new contract extension are moving a bit too slowly for Albert Haynesworth’s liking.
That is what the Tennessee Titans free-agent-to-be defensive tackle told WGFX-FM 104.5 The Zone Thursday from Radio Row in Tampa, site of Super Bowl XLIII.
“It’s been kind of slow. [General manager Mike] Reinfeldt has called, called my agent [Chad Speck] and talked to him. But it’s been pretty slow,” Haynesworth said. “We thought they would put a really good effort up. But you look at the past, it was a long time before we even got anywhere close to a deal. It was like the day before the deadline that we even got close to a deal last year. You look at the past, they’re slow, since Mike’s been in office. We just think it will go down to the 23rd hour.”
Haynesworth, who played under the franchise tender of $7.25 million and earned built-in incentives with his play in 2008, can become an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 27.
“I’ve been saying this the whole time. Tennessee is my first choice, but if things don’t work out, I’ll be prepared to go to other teams,” Haynesworth said. “Hopefully, it doesn’t work that way, but everything is moving kind of slowly now, so we’ll see.”
Reinfeldt and Speck discussed parameters of a deal late last week, but at that time, no offer was forthcoming from the Titans, sources told The City Paper earlier this week.
Haynesworth said that playing under the franchise tag last season and now earning his ticket into free agency has actually played out well for him, because he now owns the leverage unless he is re-signed before Feb. 27.
“When they tagged me, I wasn’t surprised. I was still making good money and everything, and I was satisfied with that,” Haynesworth said. “And now, it’s kind of worked out in our favor to where we had the incentives in the contract and now we’ve got free agency. So now they’ve got to see me now, or see me later. They’ve got to see me now, I guess.”
Efforts to reach Reinfeldt on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Haynesworth reiterated that he wants to stay a Titan, but will keep all his options open as he seeks a deal that will make him one of the NFL’s top-paid defensive players.
“Like I said, Tennessee has the first shot. We’ll see how that goes, and if it doesn’t go well, I could see the free agent market,” Haynesworth said. “I started my NFL career there. I’d love to retire in the same jersey. My kids are there. My kids were born there. It’s a lot of history. I played at the University of Tennessee. There’s a lot of stuff that factors in, but we’ve just got to see how it works out.”
If he exits via free agency, he said that he wants to stay close to his home in Knoxville, meaning that Atlanta and/or Carolina could become potential landing spots.
“Either way I want to stay by my kids and stay by my house in Knoxville,” he said.
Haynesworth recorded 8.5 sacks this season, a career high, and was named All-Pro for the second straight season. He also earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl berth and will depart Sunday for Hawaii.
The only question now becomes is whether or not that will be his last time to represent the Titans.