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 ESPN.com 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.