Joe Haden signs three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns parted ways with cornerback Joe Haden, who quickly signed with the team’s bitterest divisional rival.
The Cleveland Browns released cornerback Joe Haden early on Thursday morning, and by Thursday afternoon he signed with the one team that every Browns fan despises.
Haden reached a three-year, $27 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to NFL.com and multiple other outlets. The contract pays Haden $7 million this season, which coincidentally is the same amount that the Browns wanted to pay him under a restructured deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
The season opener on Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers was already going to be a big day as the home fans were going to get to see rookies Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers and DeShone Kizer for the first time in a game that matters. Now that game has hit epic proportions as Haden will presumably be lining up as part of Pittsburgh’s secondary.
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We’ve been watching the Browns since the mid-1970s and it hard to find a similar circumstance.
Quarterbacks Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar never came back to face the Browns in an opposing jersey, nor did linebacker Clay Matthews. Josh Cribbs faced the Browns as a member of the Indianapolis Colts in 2014, but that was two years after being released.
The closest, or at least most recent, would probably by wide receiver Webster Slaughter, who faced the Browns twice in 1992 as a member of the Houston Oilers.
How much of an impact Haden has on the game, and how Browns fans will react to a former fan favorite in black and gold, will be interesting.
Haden was a first-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft and made a splash his rookie year with six interceptions. Haden went on to make the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014.
Many in the national media and certain corners of Browns Twitter have made it out that the Browns gave up on an unquestioned No. 1 cornerback, but the reality is that injuries have started to take their toll on Haden as he has only played 18 total games over the past two seasons, as reflected by his grade from Pro Football Focus:
Haden is reportedly healthy this year, but his play in the preseason has been average, which is why it is not a major surprise that he is no longer in Cleveland.
It will still be odd seeing Haden in another jersey, however, and there will always be questions as to why the Browns just didn’t simply pay him this season and then just release him next spring. It is possible that the Browns decided it would be better to rip the Band-Aid off all at once, rather than see Haden’s play force him to the bench, followed by weekly questions of why Haden isn’t playing.
Next: Processing Joe Haden's release
The season opener was already going to be a special day for Browns fans. Now, with Haden playing for the Steelers, the day has been elevated to a must-see event.