Updates from Wednesday, May 14
Joe Haden spoke at a press conference on Wednesday after signing his contract extension (via the Browns and Tony Grossi of ESPN):
Haden: "I love Cleveland. I like it here, I love it here and the fans are great."— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 14, 2014
Haden: "We definitely have a lot of positive momentum going on."— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 14, 2014
Money quote from #BRowns CB Joe Haden: This contract makes me feel like I have to play like the best corner in the league.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) May 14, 2014
Haden also gave his reaction to the franchise's selections of Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert in the first round of the NFL Draft (via the Browns and George Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal):
Haden's reaction to Johnny Manziel drafted by #Browns: "I was hype!"— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 14, 2014
Haden also discussed his place among the league's best corners and the departure of T.J. Ward to Denver (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com):
As for being as good as Patrick Peterson and Sherman, he said, "I put myself there the whole time.''
Haden said he talked to his good friend T.J. Ward, now with the Broncos, for about 30 minutes Tuesday night and that "of course I'd like to have my boy here with me,'' but accepted that it's the business side of things.
The Cleveland Browns scored a major coup by locking up cornerback Joe Haden to a contract that will keep him in Cleveland through 2019.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk first reported the agreement:
A league source tells PFT that the deal includes a $14 million signing bonus, $22 million fully guaranteed at signing and another $23 million guaranteed for injury. The signing bonus, the full guarantee and the amount guaranteed for injury all surpass the deal that Richard Sherman just signed with Seattle.
The Browns later confirmed the deal in a release on the team website, with general manager Ray Farmer commenting on Haden's importance to the team:
This is a great day for both Joe Haden and the Cleveland Browns. Joe’s a good, young player who’s made a commitment to our organization, and he’s somebody with whom we want to move forward in order to advance our football team. He’s a great person. He’s the right guy to both build with and build around as we attempt to become an elite football team.
Haden also discussed the deal on his Twitter account:
Adam Schefter of ESPN relayed the full terms of the contract:
Browns CB Joe Haden agreed to 5-year extension with CLEV, as @ProFootballTalk reported. It's a $68M deal, including $45M guaranteed.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 13, 2014
Albert Breer of NFL.com noted how the contract factors into the current deal Haden was playing under:
The figure of $68 million is just the new $$ on the Haden deal, which makes that avg $13.6M. Fold in the old deal, and it's $74.678M over 6.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 13, 2014
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is pursuing his own extension, reacted to the terms of Haden's agreement on Twitter:
45!!!!!— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) May 13, 2014
Haden is arguably Cleveland's best player, so extending the Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro was of the utmost importance as the Browns attempt to enter a new era and leave behind years of mediocrity.
Breer first reported the Browns' intention to sign Haden to a long-term deal on Feb. 12:
Per source, the Browns have been negotiating a long-term deal with star CB Joe Haden, and the team was in touch with his people yesterday.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 12, 2014
The revelation didn't come as a surprise considering that Haden was entering the final year of his rookie deal. Franchising Haden moving forward was an option for the Browns, but as pointed out by McIntyre, that would have been an expensive and somewhat risky venture:
On Joe Haden: $6.7M base in 2014 will be guaranteed in Week 1. 2 yrs of franchise tags could be worth $26M+. Will look for $30M+ guaranteed— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) February 12, 2014
While most probably agree that Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is in a class all his own, there is little doubt Haden resides in that next tier of NFL corners. Haden enjoyed one of his best statistical seasons in 2013 with 54 tackles, four interceptions and his first NFL touchdown.
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports compared Haden's new deal with the contract Sherman recently signed in Seattle:
There will be inevitable comparison btwn Sherman/Haden deals but Haden was owed $5m more in '14 + got 5 yrs vs Sherman's 4. Both killed it.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 13, 2014
There haven't been many bright spots in Cleveland over the past several years, but Haden's presence gives the Browns an opportunity to build a formidable defense due to the fact that he is capable of locking down an entire half of the field when he is on his game.
Signing Haden is some much-needed positive publicity for the Browns after another front-office shakeup. General manager Michael Lombardi and chief executive officer Joe Banner both left the organization in February, with Ray Farmer assuming Lombardi's vacant post.
It remains to be seen how Farmer will fare as general manager moving forward, but keeping Haden in Cleveland will most definitely endear him to Browns fans. The move was a no-brainer considering Haden's skill level and potential to get even better, but Farmer deserves credit for making it happen.
Farmer doesn't exactly have a high standard to live up to since the Browns haven't reached the playoffs since 2002, so any type of improvement would likely be viewed as progress.
At the very least, it offers positive news for Browns fans after news emerged during the 2014 NFL draft that star wide receiver Josh Gordon could be facing a year-long suspension, per T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN.com.
Keeping Haden in the fold is a big part of Cleveland's hopes for a successful turnaround. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the administrative changes the Browns are currently undergoing, but Haden is singularly focused on performing on the field, which is a good sign for Cleveland in 2014:
Control what u can control! The nfl is a business! My part is 2 cover people! #StayInUrLane!— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) February 11, 2014
Not only will Haden be playing under new management, but he'll have to adjust to a new coaching staff as well. Cleveland hired former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as its new head coach after the firing of Rob Chudzinski, so essentially every aspect of the organization is in transition.
With that said, the hiring of Pettine is likely welcome from Haden's perspective. Pettine helped shape the Bills defense into one of the league's best against the pass in 2013, so perhaps he can help do the same for Cleveland in 2014.
According to Kevin Patra of NFL.com, Haden is encouraged by the fact that Pettine worked closely with cornerback Darrelle Revis during his time with the New York Jets.
"That means he knows what a good corner is supposed to look like and I hope I can give him exactly what he wants," Haden said. "I just can't wait to talk to him and see what approach he wants to take with me."
Is this a smart signing by the Browns?
Despite the Browns' struggles, all signs point to Haden being happy with his current situation. The fact that he inked a long-term extension certainly confirms that and indicates that he wants to be a key part of Cleveland's turnaround. Pairing him with first-round rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert should make this secondary even stronger.
Of course, the Browns have plenty of work to do before they can become contenders. Most of the reconstruction must be done on the offensive side of the ball due largely to the uncertainty at the quarterback position. After the selection of Johnny Manziel in the draft, there is plenty to talk about there.
The hope is that the bulk of the front office's attention can now turn to that with Haden officially taken care of. Haden feels like a sure thing in terms of continuing to improve and developing into an elite player, so there is nothing but positivity surrounding this signing, which is a welcome change in Cleveland.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter