Already down Bud Dupree and Devin Bush for the season’s remainder, the Steelers now face the prospect of playing without their most proven cornerback to start the playoffs. Haden is out for Week 17 against the Browns and, due to the 10-day isolation period required after a positive coronavirus test, the 11th-year cornerback would not be able to return for the Steelers’ wild-card game.
Shortly after the Browns released Haden in 2017, the former first-round pick bounced back with the Steelers. He has signed two Pittsburgh contracts and returned to the Pro Bowl. Haden’s arrival helped key a Steelers late-2010s defensive resurgence, and the AFC North champions have relied on that unit this season. But the team will not be close to full strength defensively when it opens the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 3 or No. 2 seed next week.
Haden’s three-year Steelers extension runs through next season, though the 31-year-old defender’s cap number spikes from $9.6MM to $15.6MM in 2021. He has started 56 games since signing with the Steelers, including 14 this season. On 79 targets this season, Haden has allowed a 50.6 completion percentage; Pro Football Focus grades him 45th overall among corners.
In addition to Haden being out for a game the Steelers are not exactly going all-out to win, the team will sit T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Maurkice Pouncey. The Steelers declared Ben Roethlisberger out earlier this week.