Whoa! Despite the trade rumors on Tuesday that the Cleveland Browns had cornerback Joe Haden on the trade market, I was mentally sold on the fact that he would stay with the club unless they found a trade they really liked. Instead, Wednesday morning, the team announced that they have released Haden from his contract.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says that the team tried to shop Haden for more than a year. So apparently, they were trying to build his stock up with a solid preseason, but teams still didn’t bite with the baggage (contract and injury history) he carried with him:
#Browns aggressively shopped Joe Haden for more than a year. They signed Jason McCourty to start, Boddy-Calhoun impressed. So Haden is out— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 30, 2017
With that said, now that he’s a free agent, Drew Rosenhaus expects his client to find a new club almost immediately:
Joe Haden's agent Drew Rosenhaus on his client: "Tons of interest in him. He will have a new deal with another team by tomorrow afternoon."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 30, 2017
One of those teams could be the Pittsburgh Steelers, which means Haden could be coming right back to Cleveland in Week 1. However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes that the Saints and Chiefs have strong interest in signing Haden, which can be done after 4:00 PM ET today.
I'd keep a close eye on the Steelers in regards to any high profile corners let go, like Haden. They've been sniffing around on several— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 30, 2017
From Sashi Brown, Executive VP of Football Operations
“We want to thank Joe for all he has done for this organization both on and off the field. He has been a great teammate and a true asset to the Cleveland community. These are very difficult decisions, we have the utmost respect for Joe and in my eyes, he will always be a Cleveland Brown.”
From Hue Jackson, Head Coach
“Joe gave everything he had for the Cleveland Browns and that’s all you can ask for as a coach. He was a leader on and off the field. I wish him all the best as he continues his career.”
What About the Cap Situation?
The Browns were unable to find a trade partner for Haden, but it still seems unusual to just flat out rid themselves of him at this point in time. Still, the second-longest tenured player on the club, only behind left tackle Joe Thomas, made a lot of money in Cleveland. Over the past couple of years, he hasn’t been able to live up to that contract due to several injuries.
Joe Haden banked about half of the five-year, $68 million extension he signed in 2014. He was owed $32.9m non-guaranteed the next 3 years.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 30, 2017
The Browns will carry $7.2 million in dead cap in 2017 for Haden, and then $3.2 million in dead cap in 2018 for him. The amount is split over two years because he is a post-June 1st cut.
Also, it’s worth noting that prior to Haden being released, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland reported that Sashi Brown met with Rosenhaus and Haden. It’s possible that Brown tried to offer a restructure of his contract in order to stay with Cleveland, but that they weren’t amicable to that. So his release is a move that Haden likely saw coming.
Joe Haden & agent Drew Rosenhaus met w EVP Sashi Brown in Tampa team hotel prior to game last Saturday. I doubt trade rumors surprised him.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) August 29, 2017
Who Starts at Cornerback?
The Browns’ top three cornerbacks will be Jamar Taylor, Jason McCourty, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun. All three of them have been excellent this preseason and training camp, with Taylor doing well in coverage and the other two making some very physical plays that fit in with the Gregg Williams style of defense.
Cleveland will often be in nickel defense, so all three cornerbacks will see a lot of playing time. Taylor has a lot of experience working the slot in those situations, but the club has worked toward cross-training Boddy-Calhoun for that role this preseason.
As far as how teammates will react, it’s worth noting that within minutes of the news breaking, OLB Christian Kirksey liked this tweet from former Browns player Joshua Cribbs:
I don't think @joehaden23 lost a step at all, as the team goes he goes, let the D-line do well this year, Haden goes back to the pro bowl— Josh Cribbs (@JoshCribbs16) August 29, 2017
What is your reaction to the Browns cutting Joe Haden?
This poll is closed
Stunned and disappointed
A little surprised, but OK with it
It’s been a long time coming