If the Tennessee Titans want to apply the franchise tag to defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, then he will live with that decision.
Haynesworth is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March, but after exploratory talks with the Titans about a contract extension were opened at the end of Tennessee’s season, the lines of communication have been silent of late.
“I’m still waiting, and my agent doesn’t know anything either,” Haynesworth said of his agent Chad Speck.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher indicated earlier in the offseason on his weekly radio show that keeping Haynesworth was a priority. But absent a new deal, the Titans would have to apply the franchise tag, which would assure him of being in the fold as they continue to work toward a new contract.
“There’s really nothing I can do, if it’s what they choose to do. That’s all up to them,” Haynesworth said.
Haynesworth recorded a career-high six sacks and was an anchor for a defense that finished fifth overall in the NFL this season. During a three-game absence because of a hamstring injury, the Titans lost all three games, nearly causing them to miss the playoffs.
In the past, former Titans general manager Floyd Reese was hesitant to use the franchise tag, using it just once to keep safety Blaine Bishop off the market in 1997.
However, current general manager Mike Reinfeldt came from the Seattle Seahawks, where the franchise tag was used on offensive tackle Walter Jones more than once before he finally agreed to a new contract there.
The franchise tag would put Haynesworth’s base salary as an average of the top five in the league, but would not afford him any signing bonus money.
In the meantime, Haynesworth is keeping busy, as he was holding a meet-and-greet autograph session with fans at Mafiaoza’s Restaurant in Nashville on Thursday.
“Me, my marketing people and my agent came up with this as a good idea to host a free signing, a meet and greet to say thank you to the fans for sticking behind me for a year and a half as far as everything that happened. It’s a great event,” Haynesworth said.
The event was free to the public, but collector’s cards were available for $5 at the event with the proceeds going to the March of Dimes.
Haynesworth appears to have come a long way from the ugly stomping incident that cost him a five-game suspension in 2006, and will be leaving Thursday for the Pro Bowl in Hawaii for the first time in his career.
That will give him a chance to warm up a bit, as he spent last weekend in New England watching the AFC Championship Game, courtesy of the Patriots’ Rodney Harrison.
“I just got back from New England and it was very cold up there. It’s been freezing. I’m trying to warm my bones up,” Haynesworth said. “Rodney Harrison actually gave me the tickets. I met him last year when he was in Atlanta working out. He’s a good dude. I kept his number and we always talk.”
Asked if he thought New England would complete its quest for an undefeated season by beating the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, Haynesworth said, “I think so. I’m a Patriots fan. I hope they do win and go undefeated. When we’re not playing the Patriots, I’m a Patriots fan.”