Last August, when the Cleveland Browns approached CB Joe Haden to ask him to take a pay cut, his reaction was basically, “No way — release me.” According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, he could be facing that same question for the second year in a row:
The Steelers are almost always in a bit of a cap bind, as comes with having a strong roster that allows them to complete most years. They love Joe Haden, but sources said they can’t retain him at $9 million (they’ll try to bring him back at a lower number, I assume). William Gay is also gone from that secondary I’m told, while Mike Mitchell will be a tough call too, as he could save them $6 million in cap space. Tight end Vance McDonald didn’t do much after being acquired and he’d save over $4 million against the cap if let go as expected. The Steelers will tag Le’Veon Bell again if need be.
There were other factors that came into play with Cleveland that made Haden upset, though. For example, they were willing to absorb $16 million of Brock Osweiler’s contract because they had a boatload of cap space. So with that boatload of cap space, Haden had to take it as more of an insult that the team was penny-pinching with respect to his contract. But the circumstances could be different in Pittsburgh, where the team is often trying to make small moves just to stay under the cap. And if Haden wants to remain on a winning team, restructuring his contract is probably the best move.