Joe Haden

Steelers Not Seeking Outside Additions At CB, DL

This offseason has seen a number of changes on the defensive side of the ball for the Steelers, leaving questions being asked at the cornerback and defensive line positions in particular. However, as detailed by Mark Kaboly of the Athletic (subscription required), the team is looking to internal options to fill important roles at those spots. 

The CB room includes, as Kaboly states, a number of complimentary players, such as a former third-rounders Ahkello Witherspoon and Cameron Sutton. The latter took on a much larger workload in 2022, playing over 1,000 snaps for the first time in his career. Pittsburgh also added former Bill Levi Wallace in free agency, giving them another consistent, starting-caliber member of the secondary.

The unit has lost a familiar face in veteran Joe Haden, who was reported to be on the way out earlier this offseason. On that point, Kaboly confirms that the Steelers “have shown no interest” in a reunion with the 33-year-old. Lacking an established No. 1 at the position, Kaboly reports that team nevertheless appears willing to “ride with what they have,” leaning on their elite pass rush.

Their front seven suffered a substantial loss as well, though, after the retirement of Stephon TuittThat leaves the team in need of a new starter along the defensive line, which should lead to an increased workload for Tyson Alualu. The 35-year-old played only two games in 2021 because of an ankle injury, but he has provided consistent rotational play throughout his career. Kaboly also names Chris Wormley as an incumbent in line for more snaps. The former Raven recorded a career-high seven sacks last year, but was also part of the reason Pittsburgh gave up a league-worst 146 yards per game on the ground. Recent draftees Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal will feature in the d-line rotation as well.

This late in the offseason, the Steelers, like all teams, are essentially set at the top of their roster. While their defense still features the likes of T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick, internal progress will need to be made at the front and backends of the unit if it is to help lead the team to another playoff berth.

CB Joe Haden Unlikely To Re-Sign With Steelers

After the Steelers re-signed CB Ahkello Witherspoon and added former Bills corner Levi Wallace, all signs have been pointing to Joe Haden leaving Pittsburgh in search of a new employer. Haden himself seemed to confirm as much in a tweet last night that read, “Steelernation we will always have memories!”

Indeed, Jeremy Fowler of says that Haden’s days with the Steelers are likely over (Twitter link). There has been no reported interest in him just yet, but following a successful five-year stint in the Steel City, he should be able to land a quality contract on the open market.

The Browns selected Haden with the No. 7 overall pick of the 2010 draft, and he earned two consecutive Pro Bowl bids from 2013-14. Injuries and a corresponding drop in performance led the Browns to request a pay cut in advance of the 2017 season, but the two sides could not come to terms in that regard, and Cleveland could not find any takers in a trade. The club therefore released Haden in August 2017, and the division-rival Steelers were quick to scoop him up.

The Florida product reestablished himself as a CB1 in Pittsburgh, notching 10 interceptions, 54 passes defensed, and his third career Pro Bowl selection during the last five seasons. However, in the eyes of Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, his play has started to decline a bit over the past two years, and his 63.4 grade in 2021 was his lowest mark since 2016. He also failed to record an interception in his 12 games.

Still, CB-needy teams could do much worse, and now that the first wave of free agency is in the books, we could start to hear Haden’s name more often on the rumor mill.

Steelers Re-Sign CB Maulet

The Steelers tied up one of their loose ends before the start of free agency this week, signing cornerback Arthur Maulet to a new two-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Maulet signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2017, spending most of his time in New Orleans on the practice squad but appearing in six games. After being waived in 2018, the Colts claimed Maulet off waivers. He played five games in Indianapolis, earning his first career start, before getting waived and re-signed to the Saints’ practice squad.

Maulet signed a reserve/future contract in 2019 with the Jets. In New York, Maulet started 11 games over two years splitting time at cornerback and strong safety. He recorded his first career interceptions in New York, reeling in one each year there, and recorded his first career sack in 2020.

In May 2021, the Steelers signed Maulet to a one-year, $990,000 deal. Maulet appeared in all but one game last year for the Steelers, earning two starts at cornerback. Maulet adds some much needed depth to the cornerback’s room in Pittsburgh, rejoining starter Cameron Sutton and back ups Tre Norwood, James Pierre, and Justin Layne. Starting cornerback Joe Haden and key back up Ahkello Witherspoon are also on their way to free agency.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/8/22

Today’s updates for the reserve/COVID-19 and practice squad/COVID-19 lists:

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/4/22-1/5/22

Here are Tuesday and Wednesday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Jared Cook, LB Damon Lloyd (remains on IR)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Steelers Rule Out T.J. Watt, Joe Haden For Week 11

Pittsburgh’s defense will be missing a few key pieces Sunday night. T.J. Watt and Joe Haden will not play against the Chargers this week.

Neither practiced this week after suffering injuries during the tie game against the Lions. Watt, who missed one game earlier this year because of a groin issue, is now battling hip and knee trouble. Haden is dealing with a foot injury.

This will further deplete a Steelers team that has Ben Roethlisberger and Minkah Fitzpatrick on its reserve/COVID-19 list. Mike Tomlin has said Fitzpatrick, placed on the list after a positive COVID test Monday, is unlikely to suit up. The team remains hopeful Roethlisberger, who has experienced symptoms after testing positive last Saturday, will start despite not practicing this week. The Steelers must activate Big Ben by Saturday afternoon for him to return to action.

Going through a contract year that is expected to lead to a free agency run, Haden missed a game earlier this season. He has been a Steelers starter since 2017, with his arrival coinciding with the team making a leap on defense. Watt arrived the same year, and his presence has been the top driver for the Steelers leading the NFL in sacks four years running.

Pittsburgh still has Alex Highsmith set to start Sunday, but its trade of Melvin Ingram stripped away a key depth piece — albeit one disgruntled about his reserve role at the time — from a defense that has dealt with injuries throughout the season.

The Steelers, who have been without Stephon Tuitt all season, also ruled out starting guard Kevin Dotson, who is down with an ankle ailment.

Joe Haden Plans To Play Out Contract, Test Free Agency

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 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.

Joe Haden Seeking Steelers Extension

The Steelers’ Joe Haden partnership has worked out remarkably well. The Pro Bowl cornerback has signed two contracts with the team and has played a key role in Pittsburgh’s defensive re-emergence over the past two seasons.

Haden is going into a contract year, however, with his two-year, $22MM agreement expiring after the 2021 season. The 12th-year veteran would prefer not to test free agency, instead seeking to sign a third Steelers pact and retire with the franchise.

I would rather have a contract more than this year because I want to end my career here,” Haden said, via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (subscription required). “We will see what happens, but we want to get T.J. Watt signed first, obviously. He’s the main priority.”

[RELATED: T.J. Watt Staging Hold-In]

Haden’s age (32) will complicate matters, and the Steelers do have Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick due for monster extensions. The latter is under contract through 2022, however, via the fifth-year option the Steelers exercised in May. The team, which parted ways with several veteran starters this offseason, is due to carry more than $70MM in cap space come 2022. And the perennial contenders are fond of moving money onto future caps to increase flexibility. If the Steelers want to keep Haden, they could.

This will be Haden’s fifth season with the Steelers, and the team will count on him after making big changes at corner. Pittsburgh moved on from its other two primary corners — Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson — in March and did not acquire notable replacements. The Steelers did re-sign Cameron Sutton, but they will count on at least one unproven player to log a major workload in a Haden-led position group this year.

The former Browns first-round pick signed a three-year, $27MM deal to join the Steelers in 2017, and he returned to the Pro Bowl in 2019 — months after signing his second contract with the team. After being largely an offense-oriented team during their “Killer B’s” run, the Steelers have ranked third and first in defensive DVOA over the past two seasons. The team now faces some decisions involving the key principals from this ascent.

Joe Haden Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Steelers look to be without another key defender to start the playoffs. Joe Haden tested positive for COVID-19, Dan Graziano of reports.

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.

Steelers CB Joe Haden Restructures Contract

The Steelers continue to turn to veterans to help them clear up some extra cap. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that Joe Haden has restructured his contract. Specifically, Haden guaranteed his salary all while opening up some extra breathing room for the front office.

This past season, the former first-round pick earned his first Pro Bowl nod since 2014. The veteran finished the campaign with 65 tackles, 17 passes defended, five interceptions, and one forced fumble. After spending seven seasons in Cleveland to start his career, Haden has seemingly found a home in Pittsburgh, where he’s spent the past three seasons.

Last September, Haden signed a new two-year, $22MM extension that would last through the 2021 campaign. The 30-year-old was set to have a $12.6MM cap hit next season.

Earlier this evening, we learned that the Steelers front office pulled off a similar move with veteran kicker Chris Boswell.