Joe Haden

Steelers, Joe Haden Making Progress

The Steelers and corner Joe Haden are making progress on a two-year contract extension, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The two sides have exchanged proposals, so a deal might not be far off. 

For now, Haden is due $10MM as he enters the final year of his deal. A new pact would likely lessen Haden’s cap hit, while giving him security through the 2021 season.

After missing time in 2018 with an injury, Haden returned to play 15 games last season. He graded as a top-40 cornerback, per Pro Football Focus. That is a cut below his best Browns seasons, but the 30-year-old defender remains an upper-echelon cover man.

The Steelers added cornerbacks this offseason, signing Steven Nelson and drafting Justin Layne in Round 3. Meanwhile, they’ll move forward with disappointing 2016 first-rounder Artie Burns after cutting him an $800K bonus check over the weekend.

Haden has operated as the team’s No. 1 cornerback since arriving. The Steelers have not enjoyed much consistency aside from Haden at the boundary corner positions for a while, a new deal would make sense.

While the corner market has not moved much at the top in recent years, lesser-acclaimed DBs have signed for $10MM-plus since Haden last put pen to paper. The $9MM-AAV defender will almost certainly target eight figures per year for his early-30s contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Notes: Colbert, Tomlin, Burns, Haden

The Steelers staved off questions about Mike Tomlin’s job status, at least temporarily, by giving him a one-year extension recently. They didn’t do the same for GM Kevin Colbert, and that was apparently at his request. Colbert told reporters at training camp today that “he’s not getting an extension because he wanted to go year-to-year based on ‘personal request’ to organization,” per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Fowler notes that Colbert is only under contract until May of 2020, and that the GM said his age could be a factor in whether or not he steps away. Colbert, 62, has been Pittsburgh’s front office head since 2010.

This is the first we’ve heard of any potential retirement for Colbert, so as Fowler points out, this is a “big development.” Steelers owner Art Rooney chimed in, saying “at this stage of the game, he’s really not looking to do any long-term planning,” per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We talked and we agreed he’d rather wait till after the season to talk about the contract.” Fowler noted in a follow-up tweet that Colbert indicated he could still be around for several more years, but he’s got “wiggle room” now. The Steelers have undergone a lot of change the last couple of years, and this would be another huge one.

Here’s more from Pittsburgh:

  • Tomlin’s job security has been a hot topic in recent years, and he’s one of the more polarizing coaches out there. He usually receives two-year extensions, so it was notable that this time around he only got one. When asked what he thought about that, Tomlin insisted it didn’t matter to him. “Nothing,” he told reporters, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “I really don’t think a lot about it to be quite honest with you. I focus on the task at hand, and if you do that, contractual things take care of themselves.” Tomlin has been the coach since 2007, but he’ll be under intense pressure to win in 2019. If the Steelers struggle, his seat will start getting awfully hot.
  • Tomlin’s old contract had an option year that was triggered due to hitting a certain number of wins, Dulac tweets. A source told Dulac that Tomlin’s new recently signed contract doesn’t have any similar provisions.
  • The Steelers don’t only have to worry about the contract situation of their coach and general manager, some players need to be decided on as well. Pittsburgh didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on former first-round pick Artie Burns back in May, which led to a lot of speculation that he’d be cut. Burns was due an $800K roster bonus this weekend, so a decision was always going to have to be made right around now. Burns will in fact collect the $800K and he’ll be a member of the Steelers in 2019, reports Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Burns hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but he did start six games last year and all 16 the year before that.
  • In the same tweet, La Canfora notes that the team is “working on extending” cornerback Joe Haden. Haden is entering the final year of the three-year, $27MM deal he signed after being released by the Browns back in 2017, and we heard a couple of days ago that the two sides had begun talking.

Steelers, Joe Haden Discussing Deal

Joe Haden has sought a Steelers extension for a bit now, and the rumors of these talks being likely to take place once the team reported for training camp were accurate. Haden and the Steelers are discussing an extension, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The 10th-year cornerback confirmed (via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and Steelers GM Kevin Colbert are talking re-up terms. Haden is entering the final season of the three-year, $27MM deal he signed just before the 2017 season.

Pittsburgh added multiple pieces to its cornerback equation this offseason, signing Steven Nelson and drafting Justin Layne in Round 3. The team also has to decide whether or not to pay disappointing 2016 first-rounder Artie Burns an $800K bonus this weekend.

Haden has operated as the team’s No. 1 cornerback since arriving. The Steelers have not enjoyed much consistency aside from Haden at the boundary corner positions for a while, so talking a new deal makes sense. While the corner market has not moved much at the top in recent years, lesser-acclaimed DBs have signed for $10MM-plus since Haden last put pen to paper. The $9MM-AAV defender will almost certainly target eight figures per year for his early-30s contract.

After missing time in 2018 with an injury, Haden retured to play 15 games last season. He graded as a top-40 cornerback, per Pro Football Focus. That is a cut below his best Browns seasons, but the 30-year-old defender remains an upper-echelon cover man.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Haden, Giants, Bolts, Jaguars

No extension discussions have commenced between Joe Haden and the Steelers, but that seems to be where this is headed. After a pre-draft report indicated a Haden re-up could be in the cards this year, the veteran cornerback said he wants to re-sign with the Steelers. Haden expects conversations to take place when or around the time the Steelers report for training camp July 25, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac also anticipating extension talks at that point. Haden struggled with injuries and inconsistency at the end of his Browns tenure but has done well to stabilize one of the Steelers’ cornerback spots. Signing for three years and $27MM in 2017, Haden is going into his age-30 season. The Steelers, though, do not appear to have reservations about paying him for his early-30s seasons, per Dulac. Due largely to being an old-CBA first-rounder, Haden has earned more than $100MM in his career.

Let’s look at where some other teams stand exiting minicamp week:

  • After two years either marred by injuries or featuring constraints by his role, Mike Williams expects his usage rate to spike in 2019. The Chargers are thinner at wide receiver but have their 2017 first-round pick set to pick up the slack after Tyrell Williams‘ departure. “My role is going to expand with Tyrell leaving. I’m looking forward to that,” Williams said, via Chargers.com. “I feel I’m going to get a lot more opportunities than I did last year.” Williams saw the third-most snaps among Bolts wideouts last year (732, more than 100 fewer than Tyrell Williams) but still caught 10 touchdown passes (after not scoring as a rookie).
  • The Jaguars will not see their full receiving corps available for a while. Marqise Lee missed all of last season and is not expected to return until nearly the end of training camp, Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com notes. Lee led the 2016 Jaguars in receiving and posted 702 yards in 2017, but a severe knee injury wiped out his 2018 slate. He joins Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook and 2018 second-rounder D.J. Chark in a receiving corps that brings questions about the cogs’ roles.
  • An injury spoiled Jon Halapio‘s first season as the Giants‘ center starter, but it appears he stands to return to the role he held before going down last September. The former sixth-round pick started two games last season but saw the bulk of the first-team reps during Big Blue’s offseason work, with Pat Shurmur indicating (via the New York Post’s Jared Schwartz) the sixth-year blocker is back at 100%. Spencer Pulley graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 26 center last season; he mixed in with the Giants’ first-stringers this offseason.

Steelers’ Joe Haden Wants Extension

The Steelers have yet to open extension talks with Joe Haden, but the cornerback seems eager to get things underway. The 30-year-old says he’s ready to start discussing a new deal and wants to ultimately retire as a member of the Steelers (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com). 

After a long run with the division-rival Browns, Haden inked a three-year deal with the Steelers just prior to the 2017 season. That deal has one more year and $10MM remaining.

Over the years, the Steelers have struggled to address the cornerback position through the draft, but Haden has provided valuable support in the secondary. Haden has started every game that he has played in with the Steelers, and he has reestablished himself as a shutdown cover corner despite drawing the No. 1 WR on opposing offenses. This year, the Steelers will pair Haden with former Chief Steven Nelson, who signed a lucrative free agent deal with Pittsburgh in March.

The Steelers also have youngsters Mike Hilton and Cam Sutton, plus rookie Justin Layne, but none of those players offer the resume of Haden, a multiple-time Pro Bowler.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Looming For Steelers CB Joe Haden?

The Steelers may be nearing a massive extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and as Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes, a re-up for cornerback Joe Haden may not be too far behind.

In a piece that explores whether the Steelers should spend their first-round pick on a cornerback, Kaboly says that an extension for Haden is “looming.” After a long run with the division-rival Browns, Haden is entering the last year of the three-year pact he inked with Pittsburgh in August 2017. He is owed $10MM for the 2019 campaign, and although he is now 30, his two-year stint in Pittsburgh has gone about as well as could be expected. And, given Pittsburgh’s struggles in acquiring/drafting quality cornerbacks, it makes sense that the club would want to extend its relationship with Haden.

Haden has started every game that he has played in with the Steelers, and he has reestablished himself as a shutdown cover corner despite drawing the No. 1 WR on opposing offenses. This year, he will be joined by former Chiefs CB Steven Nelson, who signed a lucrative free agent deal with Pittsburgh in March.

The team is still high on youngsters like Mike Hilton and Cam Sutton, but keeping Haden on board for at least the next couple of seasons may be one of the Steelers’ priorities over the coming months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Mayfield, Steelers, Moore

Browns fans enjoyed the chance to see a matchup between the quarterback most assumed they’d select vs. the one they actually did on Thursday, and Baker Mayfield won the first round between he and Sam Darnold. The USC-developed passer loomed as the frontrunner to go No. 1 overall for months, until Mayfield buzz increased during draft week. However, it wasn’t that tough of a decision for John Dorsey, with Terry Pluto of cleveland.com noting the new Browns GM had a “far higher” grade on Mayfield than Darnold. Both Pluto and cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot write that a return to Tyrod Taylor as the starter doesn’t make sense, with Cabot adding the months-long stance to start Taylor over Mayfield was made by both Dorsey and Hue Jackson. After the Browns’ 21-17 win over the Jets, Dorsey, per Cabot, was overheard saying to owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, “I think I picked the right one,” appearing to reference the controversial Mayfield-over-Darnold selection.

Here’s the latest out of the North divisions:

  • Sterling Moore has a workout scheduled with the Bears for next week, Jane Slater of NFL.com tweets. A former Saints, Cowboys and Buccaneers starter, Moore failed to make the Lions’ 53-man roster out of training camp. The 28-year-old cornerback played six games with the Saints last season, his second stint in New Orleans.
  • The Steelers‘ corner situation will see a boost in a bigger-than-expected spot Monday night. Joe Haden appears set to return for Pittsburgh after missing Week 2, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Haden practiced fully on Saturday. Morgan Burnett, however, doesn’t look likely to suit up Monday. The Steelers listed their recently signed safety as doubtful to face the Buccaneers.
  • Pittsburgh’s reeling on its offensive line. David DeCastro will miss his second straight game because of the fractured right hand he suffered in Week 1. Marcus Gilbert is doubtful for Week 3 because of a hamstring malady. The Steelers declared DeCastro out, and the Associated Press notes B.J. Finney will start in his place. Matt Feiler is in line to start at right tackle for Gilbert, per the AP. The Steelers struggled to produce much on the ground in Week 2 without some key pieces, with James Conner being held to 17 rushing yards after a 135-yard debut in Cleveland. Of course, the Chiefs’ 21-0 start forced the Steelers to pass much more often than they would have otherwise done.
  • The Ravens did not make a move to adjust their cornerback situation on Saturday, meaning they’ll be down to four healthy players at this spot against the Broncos on Sunday. Rookie Anthony Averett will miss Week 3, Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun notes. This may force rookie UDFA Darious Williams into action. Although, Baltimore’s still in relatively good shape despite Averett and Jimmy Smith‘s absences. Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young are available.

Steelers Notes: Bryant, Haden, Vander Esch

Here’s the latest out of Pittsburgh:

  • Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert says the team is not interested in trading wide receiver Martavis Bryant (Twitter link via Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com). Colbert indicated that he received calls on Bryant from other teams based on media reports, but he intends to keep the 26-year-old. Bryant, of course, is one of the more dynamic wideouts in the NFL, but Pittsburgh could conceivably be growing tired of his off-field antics. The Bills, for one, reportedly attempted to trade for Bryant last season, but it sounds as if the former fourth-round pick will return to the Steelers in 2017. He’s under contract for one more year at a base salary of $705K.
  • Veteran cornerback Joe Haden is not in danger of being released despite his relatively high 2018 cap charge, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Haden, who was excellent during his first season in Pittsburgh, is due a $9MM base salary next season and will count for nearly $12MM on the Steelers’ cap. Given that the Steelers are pressed for cap space, Haden had been speculatively mentioned as a candidate for release. Instead, Pittsburgh could approach Haden about reworking his contract down the line, but no machinations of that kind are underway at present.
  • The Steelers have already started “doing their draft due diligence” on Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, Fowler tweets. In some mock drafts, analysts have the Steelers targeting the athletic tackle machine at No. 28 overall. Vander Esch is now expected to come off the board earlier than many project, and has even been compared to 2018 Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher. He’s reportedly been running the 40-yard dash in under 4.65 seconds, and could officially beat that number at this week’s combine.

Steelers’ Joe Haden To Return In Week 16

After enduring one of the more crushing regular-season losses in recent memory, the Steelers now may need to win out to merely secure a bye in the AFC playoffs.

They will have a key weapon back in Week 16 to help them on this journey. Joe Haden confirmed he will return for his team’s Christmas Day game against the Texans, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Haden was close to playing against the Patriots, Bouchette notes, and labels himself at about 85 percent as of Wednesday. The Steelers did not place Haden on IR; he’s been recovering while on the 53-man roster.

The standout cornerback missed the past five Steelers contests due to a broken fibula. Prior to that, he’d delivered quality work for his second NFL team. Going into Week 16, Haden ranks as the No. 36 corner, according to Pro Football Focus, after nearly 500 snaps of work.

Haden figures to augment a pass defense that’s suffered without him. In the nine games Haden played, Pittsburgh’s defense allowed barely 181 yards passing per game. In the five contests without him, that number shot up to 251.6. Only eight touchdown passes occurred against the Steelers during the games in which Haden was healthy, Bouchette notes, but nine have come in the past five games.

The Steelers sit 12-3, but the 11-4 Jaguars have the head-to-head tiebreaker in the event of a Pittsburgh slip-up. A trip to Houston and a visit from the winless Browns represent the final two Steelers regular-season assignments. The eighth-year corner has never played in a playoff game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Rumors: Jackson, Haslam, Haden

Hue Jackson did not want to confirm a report that he and ousted executive VP Sashi Brown weren’t on speaking terms, but Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports the two had clashed on numerous occasions — and certain players were at the root of this friction. Carson Wentz, Marvin Jones, A.J. McCarron and Jimmy Garoppolo induced disagreements between the Browns’ power structure, as previously reported, but Cabot adds Jackson and Brown were at odds about the likes of Joe Haden, Demario Davis and Jeremy Maclin.

Jackson wanted the Browns to sign Maclin, Cabot reports. They were loosely connected to the UFA wideout, but the Ravens, Bills and Eagles were well ahead of them. Jackson presumably wanted Haden to remain in Cleveland, but the Browns released him. Davis was also shipped back to the Jets and has enjoyed a productive season. Cabot also notes Jackson and Gregg Williams received pushback from some members of the front office in the Myles Garrett-vs.-Mitch Trubisky argument that transpired in April, with the coaches’ side winning out and Garrett being the pick.

Here’s the latest on a busy day in Cleveland.

  • Jimmy Haslam made this move Thursday in order to not fall behind on the GM carousel, Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com reports, adding the owner saw the Giants taking an early lead by landing their former GM Ernie Accorsi to lead a search to replace Jerry Reese. Ownership was “adamant” not to fall behind in this pursuit, per Grossi. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report said during a radio appearance on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland the early Brown firing was to get an early start on a John Dorsey push (Twitter link). The Browns do not have to wait until season’s end to interview Dorsey like they would an active exec, and Miller reports many believe he will be Cleveland’s next GM. Dorsey steered the Chiefs to three playoff berths in four seasons after taking over following a 2-14 season.
  • Haslam was tinkering with the idea to make in-season changes for the past couple of weeks, Albert Breer of SI.com reports, noting the owner was considering bringing in a football voice to complement Brown rather than replace him. But after research, the owner decided to fire Brown and begin a search for his replacement.
  • Both Breer and Grossi confirm the Thursday-afternoon report the Browns are going after Dorsey. Grossi reports Dorsey has been “endorsed heartily” by at least one of the football execs with whom Haslam’s already consulted. Breer notes a Dorsey/Jackson arrangement makes more sense than Brown/Jackson, with the ex-Chiefs GM’s scouting background aligning more with Jackson’s admitted old-school approach to football development. That, and not necessarily his impressive work in Kansas City, made him a key name to watch in Cleveland, Breer notes.
  • A Dorsey hire could well mean a more prominent role for ex-Colts GM Ryan Grigson, Grossi writes. Grigson’s currently working as a senior personnel exec, with an emphasis on scouting. Dorsey and Grigson’s friendship and mutual respect would stand to lead to a better title for the since-fired Indianapolis decision-maker.
  • The Browns’ decision to part with Brown and not Jackson could lead to an increased interest in Josh Rosen. Miller notes. Jackson likes the UCLA quarterback as a prospect, with a source informing the draft-based reporter Rosen is “Jackson’s guy.” Rosen seems more certain to declare for the 2018 draft than Sam Darnold at this juncture.