"I wanted to be the greatest defensive lineman ever to play the game," Haynesworth told ESPN's Sara Walsh in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
In the time since, the Redskins have changed coaches -- from Jim Zorn to Mike Shanahan -- and defensive schemes -- from the 4-3 to the 3-4.
The change made Haynesworth hesitate before depositing the $21 million bonus check he was given April 1.
"Yeah, check sat at my house for a couple weeks before I cashed it," Haynesworth said. "I was weighing my options about what I should do. ... Do you want to take this? Do you want to commit yourself to playing a 3-4 [defense]? Do you want to go somewhere else and try again?"
Haynesworth ultimately took the money and stayed with the Redskins. But he did protest the change by skipping the team's offseason conditioning program and a mandatory minicamp.
Haynesworth had two tackles in the Redskins' opener against the Cowboys. He missed the season's second game because of an ankle injury before returning against the Rams, where he played mostly in nickel packages and had no tackles.
"It's been hard, changing schemes," Haynesworth said. "It's been challenging."
Haynesworth isn't sure how he is perceived in Washington after the eventful offseason.
"Some people think I'm off my rocker," he said. "Some think I'm just a guy who doesn't want to do anything. Some think I'm a nice guy. Lot of different perceptions but if you meet me you will understand I am a good person."
Haynesworth said he and Shanahan have a good working relationship.
"Everyone thinks we're standing in a long hallway, with gun holsters, ready to draw on each other," Haynesworth said of himself and the coach. "Nothing like that. ... We're completely fine."