Joe Haden Signs 3-Year, $27M Contract with Steelers After 7 Years with Browns

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Joe Haden #23 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during a preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Former Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden reached an agreement Wednesday with the Pittsburgh Steelers on a three-year free-agent deal, the Steelers announced.

ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported Haden will sign a three-year deal with the Steelers worth $27 million, which includes $7 million in 2017.

Schefter also noted Haden turned down "bigger offers" from other teams because he wanted to play for the Steelers.

The Browns released Haden on Wednesday morning after he spent seven seasons with the organization. The team made him the seventh overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft after a standout career at the University of Florida that included the 2008 BCS national championship.

He finished his time in Cleveland with 377 combined tackles, 100 passes defended, 19 interceptions, four forced fumbles and a touchdown across 90 games. He earned Pro Bowl selections in 2013 and 2014 and earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2013.

Haden is coming off a down year, though. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 88 corner in the league for 2016.

PFF also spotlighted his decline over time since a terrific rookie season:

Pro Football Focus @PFF

With the recent decline of Joe Haden, cornerback could be a priority for the Browns in the draft. https://t.co/mV3Xst2BPK

Injuries have played a key role in those struggles. He's appeared in just 18 games over the past two years due to a variety of ailments, including a concussion that brought an early end to his 2015 season.

In early August, Haden called last season the "toughest year" of his football career, but he declared himself healthy and ready to get back on track, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

"I love the game so much that it's tough from the outside looking in to see [people say], 'Man, Joe, he's hurt. He can never stay healthy,'" Haden said. "I'm not trying to be hurt. I'm not trying to not be out there helping my guys. It was tough for me, but just understanding you can control what you can control. I worked my tail off after my surgery [to be healthy for training camp]. So I'm just ready to go and just excited to play ball."

He added: "Last year was a little harder because I was actually on the field and couldn't do what I wanted to do, couldn't open up, couldn't run full speed and when you're covering those dudes, nobody really knows that."

Now that he's found a new home, the key question is whether Haden can return to the form he showcased during his early years in the NFL or if consistent injury problems will prevent the 28-year-old Maryland native from getting back to that level.

He should get ample opportunity to prove himself with the Steelers, who made a reasonable investment based on the fact the defensive back could provide serious bang for the buck if he does bounce back after a couple of injury-plagued years.

Haden will have a chance to emerge as Pittsburgh's top corner ahead of Artie Burns, Ross Cockrell and William Gay. His role may be reduced in the early going, however, as he works to learn the playbook on a short turnaround before the start of the regular season.


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