With the Cleveland Browns currently in a re-building mode, all of the contracts for veteran players will be under more scrutiny if they haven’t lived up to expectations. Pro Football Focus has been going through each position in the NFL and picking the five players with the worst contracts — that is, contracts that are not team-friendly compared to their performance. Cleveland had three defenders recognized, one each at cornerback, edge defender, and interior defender.
CB Joe Haden is listed as having the worst contract at the position, with 2018 being the first year he could realistically be cut given the amount of dead money that would be owed to him with an earlier release.
Although Haden was panned for a disastrous 2015 season, PFF also pointed out that his previous workload was “fine” for a cornerback, but not enough to warrant making him one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the game:
Even if we erase from our memory his disastrous 2015 season, one would assume that Haden’s past production would come close to warranting his current deal. The 29th-, 12th-, 20th-, ninth-, and sixth-highest graded cornerback going back from 2014 to 2010, respectively, Haden’s deal is easily among the top five at the position going into the 2016 season. With $20.1 million in dead money left on the contract, the now analytically-minded Browns need to hope for a return to at least his 2013 form to obtain commensurate value from Haden, an outcome made even less likely by the fact that his offseason ankle surgery leaves his availability for opening day in doubt.
Coming in at 5th on the edge defender list is OLB Paul Kruger, who only has two years left on his contract. PFF says that his contract over the next two years isn’t so bad, but for what the Browns paid him originally, he never lived up to being a dominant pass-rusher and his run defense has been below average.
Coming in at 4th on the interior defender list is DE Desmond Bryant. Bryant’s story is very similar to Kruger’s. He’s not a terrible player and his output might be among the best on the team, but for what the club originally paid him, there hasn’t been a single season in which even the most optimistic Browns fan would think that Bryant was playing at a Pro Bowl level. So, while he may be underrated according to Football Outsiders, his contract proved that a previous front office actually overrated him.