The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t waste any time pulling Joe Haden off the free-agent market.
Hours after he was released by the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Steelers, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Haden is guaranteed to make $7 million in the first year of his new contract — which ironically was the same amount Cleveland was seeking to pay him before cutting him, Rapoport reported. The Steelers later made the deal official.
ESPN first reported the development. The Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts were among the teams that were interested in potentially signing Haden before the Steelers ended his brief free-agency foray, Rapoport reported.
Haden, 28, reached the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014. The 2010 first-round pick signed a six-year, $74.678 million deal in 2014 but has struggled to find consistency in the years since. Haden has played in just 18 games since 2014, with three interceptions and 13 pass breakups in those two years.
Although Haden’s on-field presence has been hampered by injury, he makes an impact when he stays healthy. He’s one of only two NFL players with more than 100 pass breakups since 2010 and, in the 13 games he played in, he has recorded a 78.6 passing rating against.
While it was moderately surprising the Browns couldn’t find a trade partner for him, it’s not surprising their AFC North rivals went after him so aggressively. The Steelers could use more cornerback depth, and Haden’s Pro Bowl past coupled with his 2016 bounceback season makes him a sensible signing. Pittsburgh had the league’s 16th-ranked pass defense last season (242.6 yards per game) and ranked No. 24 in completion percentage allowed (64.6).
As for Haden’s new teammates, it seems running back Le’Veon Bell is onboard with the Steelers’ newest roster addition. And Haden won’t have to wait long to play the Browns — his first game with the Steelers will be in Cleveland on Sept. 10.