Joe Haden hoped to sign a second Steelers extension soon, but that may not be in the team’s immediate plans. Haden is now planning to play out his contract year and test free agency in 2022, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
The Steelers and their top corner agreed to a two-year, $22MM extension two years ago today. That deal expires at the end of the 2021 season. Haden’s adjusted strategy will put him on track to hit free agency in March for the first time.
The veteran defender approached the Steelers about another re-up recently, per Schefter, but nothing came to pass. The Steelers frequently extend players just before their contract years begin. Haden’s new plan suggests the team is fine letting the three-time Pro Bowler go through his walk year.
While the Steelers did land Haden as a free agent in 2017, the Browns cut him late that summer. He has yet to be an unrestricted free agent at the time in which teams are most prepared to spend.
Haden’s age will complicate matters. The 12th-year veteran will turn 33 in April. Teams are rarely eager to pay up for corners approaching their mid-30s, but Haden delivering a solid age-32 season this year will help him on the market — if the Steelers let this situation reach that point. Pittsburgh did let a few key cogs leave in free agency this year, slot corner Mike Hilton among them, and have big-ticket deals to finalize with T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Haden will check in below these younger standouts, priority-wise.
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