Steelers Rumors: PIT Focused on Joe Haden Contract over Other Defensive Players

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (23) warms up before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Steelers have several key defensive players set to enter the final year of their contracts in 2019, but the team is reportedly only interested in extending cornerback Joe Haden for the time being.

According to Ed Bouchette of The Athletic, the Steelers want to extend Haden's contract but do not plan to do the same for defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, linebacker Bud Dupree, safety Sean Davis or cornerback Artie Burns prior to the start of the regular season on Sept. 8.

Bouchette noted that the Steelers have traditionally set a self-imposed deadline of the start of the regular season for any contract negotiations.

Haden is hopeful he and the Steelers can get something done over the next couple of weeks: "We're still working on it. I'm still optimistic, but you know we still have until Sept. 8. It's something I want to get done, for sure."

Bouchette added that while Haden and the Steelers have been in talks, "little progress" has been reported.

The 30-year-old Haden has spent the past two seasons with the Steelers following his release by the Cleveland Browns prior to the start of the 2017 campaign.

During his seven seasons in Cleveland, Haden was a two-time Pro Bowler and widely considered one of the NFL's top corners. After appearing in 11 games for the Steelers in 2017, Haden started all 15 games he played in last season and finished with 63 tackles, 12 passes defended and two interceptions.

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With Burns failing to live up to his status as a first-round pick and Steven Nelson making his transition from the Kansas City Chiefs to Pittsburgh, Haden is clearly the Steelers' No. 1 option at cornerback this season and beyond if they can re-sign him.

Haden, Hargrave, Dupree, Davis and Burns can all become free agents at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

Bouchette reported that the Steelers are likely to wait until the season is over to negotiate with Hargrave, Dupree and Davis but don't figure to bring back Burns since he has been relegated to a backup role behind Haden and Nelson.

The Steelers ranked 10th in pass defense and sixth in total defense last season, and if they are going to return to the playoffs in 2019 after missing out in 2018, they will need another strong performance from their defense with running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown no longer in the fold.