Joe Haden

Steelers CB Joe Haden Has Broken Fibula

Steelers cornerback Joe Haden suffered a broken fibula in today’s victory over the Colts and will be sidelined indefinitely, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters, including Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). However, Haden only has a “slight” fracture in his leg, and should be able to return following a three-week absence, tweets Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk."<strong

While the most recent news on Haden’s status is positive, his loss will be felt in the Steelers’ secondary no matter how long he’s out. Haden, who agreed to a three-year deal with Pittsburgh after being released by the Browns earlier this year, has played nearly every defensive snap for the Steelers in 2017 while grading as the league’s No. 33 cornerback among 117 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. The 28-year-old Haden has been excellent while defending mostly deep passes, as he ranks fourth in average air yards of passes against, according to Football Outsiders.

With Haden unavailable, the Steelers will likely turn to veteran William Gay to start on the outside opposite Artie Burns, with Mike Hilton remaining in the slot. Coty Sensabaugh, who has yet to play a single defensive snap, could also see more time on defense, while rookie Cameron Sutton — who is close to returning from injured reserve — may contribute down the stretch.

If Pittsburgh wants to look outside the organization for another defensive back, Vontae Davis — recently cut by the Colts — could be one option. Contending teams are reportedly interested in adding Davis for the stretch run, and while the Steelers aren’t known to have contacted Davis, they’d make sense as a potential suitor. Of course, Davis’ injury status and poor play could dissuade general manager Kevin Colbert from inking the veteran.

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AFC Notes: Dolphins, Brady, Taylor, Colts

The NFL postponed the DolphinsBuccaneers‘ Week 1 game until Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma (Twitter link). Both teams had byes that week, making this rare postponement easier. Both south Florida teams will now play 16 straight games.

Here’s the latest from several other AFC cities on Wednesday morning.

  • After a joint review by the NFL and NFLPA, the Patriots were determined to have followed protocol regarding a potential Tom Brady concussion last season, the sides said in a statement (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, on Twitter). Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, said earlier this offseason her husband suffered a concussion last season that wasn’t reported by the Patriots. Brady issued a vague response when asked about this in July, but the quarterback turned over his medical records during this investigation — one that examined film from all 19 Patriots games, along with reports from unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants and concussion spotters assigned to those respective games. While the NFL isn’t claiming Bundchen is lying about the concussions, Volin tweets this examination merely determined the Patriots followed protocol. This matter appears to be closed, from the league’s perspective.
  • Tyrod Taylor‘s agent contacted the Browns, Jets and 49ers prior to the Bills agreeing to a revamped deal with their incumbent starter, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reports. After those discussions, Carucci reports Taylor’s camp decided it was best to agree to the reworked Bills pact. The three teams possessed some degree of interest in Taylor had he hit free agency, but it evidently wasn’t enough to dissuade Taylor from staying with the Bills on a contract that now pays him $10MM less over the next two years than it would have under the previous terms. “Maybe a couple less touchdowns, but as far as yardage, I did what I did to get that deal in the first place,” Taylor said, via Carucci, about the adjusted contract. “So whether they thought that I didn’t deserve it, I don’t know. That’s up to them.” Taylor threw for just 12 fewer yards last season (3,023) and rushed for 12 more (580) than he did in 2015. Although, the quarterback played in one more game last season than he did during his first year as Buffalo’s starter.
  • The Texans‘ deal with cornerback Marcus Burley is for two years, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. A former sixth-round pick, Burley’s played in 38 games during his three-year career. After two seasons with the Seahawks, Burley played with the Browns in 2016. Cleveland cut him last week.
  • The Colts worked out offensive lineman Emmett Cleary, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The Cowboys cut Cleary on Saturday after he played in 13 games for them last season.
  • Newly acquired Steelers defensive backs Joe Haden and J.J. Wilcox account for a combined $5.541MM in 2017 cap hits, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Pittsburgh now holds $11.07MM in cap space.

Raiders Had Interest In CB Joe Haden

The Raiders expressed interest in cornerback Joe Haden before he signed with the Steelers on Thursday, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).Joe Haden (Vertical)

Haden, of course, signed with the Steelers just minutes after being officially released by the Browns, but he managed to generate an extremely fruitful market during his brief period as a free agent. A number of clubs, including the Dolphins, Eagles, Saints, Chiefs, Cowboys, and 49ers were all mentioned as potential suitors for Haden, who ultimately leveraged that interest into a three-year, $27MM deal with Pittsburgh.

Oakland ranked just 25th in DVOA against the pass a season ago, and the team is already experiencing turnover at its cornerback position. Sean Smith, who inked a hefty free agent contract in 2016, has been demoted from the Raiders’ starting lineup, meaning T.J. Carrie is now playing opposite David Amerson. First-round rookie Gareon Conley is available, as well, but he was only activated off the PUP list on Tuesday.

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AFC Notes: Bills, Steelers, Bengals

The Bills sent big-money defensive tackle Marcell Dareus home before their preseason game against the Ravens last week after he violated a team rule, leaving general manager Brandon Beane unsure if the two-time Pro Bowler is part of the solution. Asked this week if Dareus is on board with what the team is trying to build, Beane told Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (via Mark Inabinett of AL.com): “I don’t know. Time will tell. It was disappointing, as I said, after that game. He was contrite yesterday and said the right things. Actions speak louder than words. Time will tell. Hopefully, he is. We hope he’ll play to his potential. We know what kind of player he can be. We hope to see that on the field.” Even if the Bills are fed up with Dareus, who has multiple suspensions on his resume, moving on from the cornerstone defender in the near future would be extremely difficult because of the structure of his contract. The Bills inked Dareus to a six-year, $91.5MM extension in September 2015.

More from two other AFC cities:

  • The Steelers expect the NFL to fully reinstate wide receiver Martavis Bryant in advance of Week 1, GM Kevin Colbert told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette (Twitter link). The league suspended Bryant for all of last season for repeated violations of its substance abuse policy, conditionally reinstated the 25-year-old in April and gave him clearance to participate in the preseason three weeks ago. He hasn’t appeared in a meaningful game since a playoff loss to the Broncos on Jan. 17, 2016.
  • Cornerback Joe Haden‘s $5.75MM signing bonus is the only guaranteed portion of the three-year, $27MM contract the Steelers gave him Wednesday, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The pact includes base salaries of $1.25MM, $9MM and $10MM, and it comes with a $1MM roster bonus that’s due in March 2018.
  • Linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s suspensions call his future with the Bengals into question, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com observes. Burfict is set to serve a three-game ban for the second straight campaign, and he has only played 58 of a possible 80 regular-season contests in his five-year career. Cincinnati’s going to have to consider Burfict’s lack of availability when deciding whether to re-sign him by next winter, then. The same goes for tight end Tyler Eifert, whom injuries have limited to 37 of a possible 64 games during his four seasons. Both players make the Bengals better when they’re on the field, which Terrell notes will make for tough decisions in each case.

NFC Notes: Eagles, Haden, Cowboys

Despite earlier reports to the contrary, an Eagles source tells Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) that the team was not in on Joe Haden. The Eagles, the source claims, are content with their young cornerbacks.

It’s quite possible that the Eagles were interested in Haden but were not among the finalists for him, making this all a matter of semantics. In any case, the Eagles were unwilling to approach, match, or exceed the $7MM guarantee that Haden secured in his new three-year deal with the Steelers.

The Eagles will be starting a pair of 23-year-old corners in Jalen Mills and the newly-acquired Ronald Darby. Behind them, they have only one player outside of his 20s in veteran Patrick Robinson. Eventually, rookie Sidney Jones could join the active roster and provide help, but that doesn’t help to boost the group’s experience level.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Tests show that Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who suffered a tibial plateau fracture recently, suffered no ligament damage, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. That means that no surgery will be needed and that, in theory, could help to speed up recovery. In a press release, the Cowboys indicated that Hitchens likely will not go on IR. The latest projections have Hitchens missing total eight weeks of action.
  • Doctors say that Bears wide receiver Cameron Meredith only suffered ACL and MCL damage and did not injure any other major ligaments in his knee, Rapoport tweets. Meredith is done for the year, but he could be back in time for next year’s OTAs.
  • Now that the Packers have added Ahmad Brooks to the fold, they can be more patient with rookie Vince Biegel‘s recovery, Ryan Wood of the Press-Gazette tweets. A source tells Wood that he’ll “probably” start the season on the PUP list, meaning that he won’t count against the initial 53-man limit.
  • Former Saints defensive end Royce LaFrance signed with the CFL’s Roughriders, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets.

Steelers To Sign CB Joe Haden

The Steelers are expected to sign cornerback Joe Haden to a three-year, $27MM deal that includes $7MM in 2017, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That $7MM figure also represents the contract’s guarantee, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Joe Haden (Vertical)

Haden will stay in the AFC North and land with Pittsburgh despite receiving larger offers from other clubs, tweets Schefter, who adds that Haden wanted to be a Steeler. A number of other teams, including the Dolphins, Eagles, Saints, Chiefs, Cowboys, and 49ers also expressed interest in Haden, but the Pittsburgh had been considered the favorite to ink the former Browns cornerback.

The Steelers ranked 12th in DVOA against the pass a season ago, but the club’s secondary was still missing a clear-cut No. 1 cornerback. It’s not clear that Haden fits that definition anymore, as he graded as the No. 88 corner among 110 qualifiers in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. Injuries were likely a factor in his decreased production, but health isn’t a guarantee for Haden, who’s missed 14 games over the past two seasons.

Before releasing him earlier today, Cleveland offered to reduce Haden’s pay from $11MM to $7MM, per Rapoport (Twitter link), and Haden will now earn that same total with the Steelers. Haden’s deal contained offset language, so the Browns are not on the hook for the $4MM in guaranteed base salary it owes to the 28-year-old cornerback.

Pittsburgh now boasts a relatively deep defensive backfield, as Haden joins a unit that also includes Ross CockrellArtie BurnsWilliam GaySenquez GolsonCameron Sutton, and Coty Sensabaugh.

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Steelers To Host CB Joe Haden Tonight

The Steelers are already considered the frontrunners for cornerback Joe Haden, and they’ll meet with the free agent himself tonight, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Joe Haden

Pittsburgh isn’t the only NFL club eyeing Haden, who was released by the Browns this morning, as the Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, 49ers, and Dolphins are also interested in adding the 28-year-old. Cleveland is already paying Haden a guaranteed $4MM for the 2017 season, meaning any that signs the veteran defensive back will only be responsible for the minimum. However, given the level of interest that Haden has already generated, it’s possible that he could garner a hefty deal. He’s reportedly open to both single-season and multi-year pacts.

The Steelers are currently slated to start Ross Cockrell and Artie Burns at cornerback, with William GaySenquez GolsonCameron SuttonCoty Sensabaugh, and others vying for time as depth options. That group is without a clear-cut No. 1 cornerback, although it’s not apparent that Haden fits that definition anymore, as he graded as the No. 88 corner among 110 qualifiers in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. And if Pittsburgh is looking for reliability, it may not get it with Haden, who’s missed 14 games over the past two seasons.

Technically, Haden can’t speak or meet with any other clubs until he’s officially released by the Browns at 4pm ET today.

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Latest On Joe Haden

Before the Browns released cornerback Joe Haden on Wednesday, they were attempting to trade him for a fourth-round pick that could have become a third-rounder based on playing time, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (Twitter links). The Browns were also willing to eat $4MM of Haden’s salary, but they were still unable to find a taker for the two-time Pro Bowler.

Now that Haden’s on the open market won’t cost a team draft-pick compensation to acquire, interest is pouring in for the 28-year-old. Twelve to 13 clubs are in on Haden, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, and La Canfora adds that he’s likely to land somewhere within the next 24 hours. Along with the previously reported Steelers, Dolphins, Saints and Chiefs, the Eagles and 49ers are chasing Haden, who’s currently weighing offers for one year and multiple seasons, according to La Canfora.

Joe Haden (Vertical)

Haden would be the third notable addition at corner in recent weeks for the Eagles, who picked up Ronald Darby in a trade with the Bills and Dexter McDougle in a deal with the Jets earlier this month. The team is still relatively thin at the position even with those two in the fold, though, especially after releasing Ron Brooks on Wednesday.

The 49ers are the only club in on Haden without a realistic playoff shot this season, and it seems unlikely Haden would sign with a non-contender after spending the first seven years of his career with bottom-feeding Cleveland. Indeed, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets that it would be shocking if Haden chose the Niners. Unsurprisingly, Haden would be far and away the most accomplished corner on a San Francisco team that has another ex-Brown, K’Waun Williams, as well as Dontae Johnson, Rashard Robinson and Keith Reaser among its top four options. Those CBs have combined for just 22 NFL starts, while Haden has 81 to his name.

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Dolphins In On CB Joe Haden

The Dolphins are the latest club to express interest in free agent cornerback Joe Haden, reports Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.Joe Haden (Vertical)

Miami has been researching Haden in recent days, but had no interest in trading for the former Browns defensive back, per Salguero. With fewer than $9MM in available cap space, the Dolphins are searching for a discount cornerback. Haden could fit that bill given that his contract with Cleveland has offset language, meaning Miami or another team could sign Haden for the minimum salary and force the Browns to foot the rest of the cost.

While that’s a viable option in theory, Haden has already drawn quite a bit of interest since being released this morning. The Cowboys, Chiefs, Saints, and Steelers have all been mentioned as possible landing spots for Haden, so the 28-year-old could potentially start a bidding war that drives up his price. Haden’s agent Drew Rosenhaus predicted his client will have a new contract by Thursday.

The Dolphins have already lost cornerback Tony Lippett for the season due to an Achilles injury, so the club is looking for depth in the secondary. Miami currently projects to start Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard on the outside, although Maxwell is reportedly fighting off competition for free agent acquisition Alterraun Verner. Other corners on the Dolphins’ roster include third-round rookie Cordrea Tankersley, Bobby McCain, and Walt Aikens.

Haden isn’t the most reliable defender, as he’s missed 14 games over the past two seasons. But if healthy, there’s a chance he could rebound to his previous levels of production: from 2010-14, Haden was a solid starter, starting 63 games during that time. While Pro Football Focus has ranked Haden poorly over the past two years, the Dolphins don’t put much stock in PFF’s grades, per Salguero.

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Steelers Favorites For CB Joe Haden

The Steelers have emerged as a “possible contender” for free agent cornerback Joe Haden, whom the Browns released earlier today, according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (Twitter link). In fact, Pittsburgh is considered the “favorite” to land Haden, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.Joe Haden (Vertical)

[RELATED: Steelers Acquire TE Vance McDonald]

While Pittsburgh boasts a number of intriguing young options in their secondary, the club’s pass defense lacks a true No. 1 cornerback at present. Of course, it’s not apparent that Haden fits that definition anymore, as he graded as the No. 88 corner among 110 qualifiers in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. And if the Steelers are looking for reliability, they won’t get it with Haden, who’s missed 14 games over the past two seasons.

But the Steelers apparently believe Haden still has production left to over: per Kinkhabwala, Haden has number of advocates in Pittsburgh, including wide receiver Antonio Brown. Plus, Haden should come on the cheap, as he’s already guaranteed to earn $4MM from the Browns. Haden’s contract included offsets, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, so the Steelers (or any other club) will only be responsible for a minimum salary if they sign Haden for fewer than $4MM.

Pittsburgh is slated to start Ross Cockrell and Artie Burns at cornerback, with William Gay, Senquez Golson, Cameron Sutton, Coty Sensabaugh, and others vying for time as depth options.

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