Joe Haden's season has officially come to an end. On Monday, the Cleveland Browns announced that they have placed the veteran cornerback on injured reserve.
In the second year of his 5-year, $67.5 million contract extension, Haden delivered his worst season as a pro. He played in only 5 games, registering 22 tackles and 2 passes defended. He started the first three games of the season, but suffered a broken finger against the Oakland Raiders in Week 3. In Week 4, he was a surprise inactive after he told the team at the last second that he couldn't play. He returned in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens, but left after suffering a concussion. He missed two games and returned in Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals, where he suffered another concussion. He hadn't been back since.
"This has been an extremely difficult season for me personally," Haden said in a statement to Browns.com. "It’s upsetting that my year has ended this way. I really want to be out there with my teammates trying to help finish this season strong and on a positive note. We’ve all learned how important it is to be very thorough with concussions and I appreciate the care the Browns have provided for me. Although, I haven’t been able to clear protocol the specialist I have met with have told me they expect a full recovery. I’m looking forward that, returning to form, having a good offseason and an even better 2016 season."
Even in the five games that Haden played, something was off with him. Usually, he goes through some rough patches, but responds with some positive plays. Every time he was targeted this season, though, he was beat, except for maybe one play against the Tennessee Titans. Pro Football Focus had him graded as the third-worst cornerback in football:
Every Cornerback ranked from best to worst this season. Best: Josh Norman Worst: Brandon Browner pic.twitter.com/df4X1OBQ8Z— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 4, 2015
This past offseason, Haden's peers graded him as the No. 23 player in the NFL. When NFL.com does their Top 100 feature next year, it'll be interesting to see whether or not Haden makes that list. Haden's overall body of work still allows me to have faith in him long term; he's under contract through the 2019 season. For the remainder of the year, the club can see what they have in Charles Gaines, and then in 2016, they can also see whether their pet project in Ifo Ekpre-Olomu can live up to the potential he once had.