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Updated: May 8th, 2010 5:33pm
Pelissero: Talks quiet, but playing for Vikings sounds good to Haynesworth

Pelissero: Talks quiet, but playing for Vikings sounds good to Haynesworth

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

The Washington Redskins want Albert Haynesworth to play nose tackle in their new 3-4 defense. Haynesworth wants to remain a three-technique in a 4-3. And the Minnesota Vikings could have an opening to start the season if the StarCaps saga ends with two key starters serving four-game suspensions.

Plenty of observers have connected those dots to make the case for the Vikings taking a run at Haynesworth. Rumors even heated up -- albeit briefly -- during the NFL Draft the team was in hot pursuit of the two-time All-Pro.

There have been no signs since of active trade talks, and recent speculation out east is the Redskins and Haynesworth may be stuck with each other. I made the point the other day a deal might make it tough for the Vikings to keep everyone happy, too, since Haynesworth and All-Pro Kevin Williams both have made their names playing the three-technique.

But would Haynesworth be open to playing in Minnesota?

According to NFL sources, the answer is a definitive "yes."

That's not surprising -- the Vikings are one of 18 teams who play a 4-3, meaning almost half the league isn't an option. And it's not like Haynesworth has a ton of say in the matter, since being traded would leave him with two options: play for the new team or don't play at all.

But sources say Haynesworth would have no problem splitting time in Minnesota, and his absence from this weekend's voluntary minicamp -- veterans' first on-field exposure to new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and his staff -- is the latest sign he remains unhappy with the scheme change and wants to be moved.

The question is, are the Vikings still interested -- and at what price?

Haynesworth signed one of the richest deals in NFL history only 14½ months ago and collected a $21 million roster bonus April 1, but his base salary this season is a reasonable $3.6 million on a contract that runs through 2015.

At age 28 -- he turns 29 next month -- Haynesworth remains capable of being a force inside when he's healthy and motivated. But he hasn't played all 16 games since his rookie year in 2002, and his first season in Washington by all accounts was a disappointment.

An AFC personnel man this week called Haynesworth "as dominant of a defensive lineman as I've ever seen" during his days with the Tennessee Titans.

"Not as much in Washington, in terms of his motor not running hot," the personnel man said. "There was always some fear with personnel people and guys around the league what this guy was going to be like once he got the big payday."

Is it worth the risk of dealing a high 2011 draft pick to obtain Haynesworth when the Vikings' defensive front -- at full strength -- is one of the best and deepest in the game?

For now, it seems the Vikings' answer is "no," and the Redskins have repeatedly denied reports they're shopping Haynesworth at all.

But it's worth wondering if things might change should Washington drop its asking price as the summer -- and Haynesworth's absence -- wears on.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
In this story: Kevin Williams
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