Former Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden agreed to a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday, hours after the team released him.
Haden’s deal is for three years and worth a total of $27 million, and he’ll make $7 million of that guaranteed in 2017.
After trying to trade him, and not finding a partner, the Browns reportedly attempted to restructure his contract. Haden, a former Pro Bowler owed $11 million in 2017, balked and refused to the pay cut restructure, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio also reported Haden declined a restructured deal before the team released him on Wednesday morning.
Haden was due $4 million in guaranteed money from the Browns, which they’ll no longer be on the hook for given the details of his new contract.
The Steelers are getting a former Pro Bowler who has struggled to live up the big contract he signed with the Browns, which ultimately made him untradeable and forced their hand with his release. Here’s a look at how he has fallen off in recent years, per Pro Football Focus grading metrics.
Josh Liskiewitz of PFF gave those poor grades a little more context while defending his stance that Haden would not be an upgrade, even for the Detroit Lions’ depleted secondary.
The past 2 seasons he has given up 72 catches on 110 throws into his coverage, 1059 yards and 10 touchdowns while notching just 3 INTs.— Josh Liskiewitz (@PFF_Josh) August 30, 2017
For the Steelers, they’re praying Haden returns to form. But they didn’t give up too much for a potentially adequate defensive back, a position they have struggled to fill with competent bodies in recent years.
They’ll need to hope he comes around sooner than later. As they shift to more man coverage in their secondary, Ross Cockrell has looked out of place, but Haden hasn’t been much better. Here’s a look at Haden’s flawed back pedal hurting him in man coverage last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, courtesy of NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger.
Joe Haden looks like he is struggling coming out of his back pedal. He used to be able to do this falling out of bed in the morning. Gr8 Man pic.twitter.com/6nJ8BLwDcL— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 30, 2017
Maybe the change of scenery, and the fact he’s playing for a contender, will energize him enough to help fix his game to a serviceable level, at least. If not, the Browns got his contract off their books, and the Steelers are out several million dollars, and back in the position they started.
Either way, the Browns’ house-cleaning continues. Nearly all of their big money contracts have been shed since Sashi Brown took over the top executive job for the organization. And they now have just six total first round picks on their roster, from 2007 to present, three of them are rookies, and only two — Joe Thomas and Danny Shelton — were not picked by Brown and his staff.