4 reasons the Steelers extending Joe Haden is the wrong move

Joe Haden #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)
Joe Haden #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images) /
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Joe Haden #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Steelers Haden is getting old

Now, I want to say upfront that there is no issue having older players on a roster. Veterans are a key part of a team and you can’t build a roster solely around young players. That doesn’t mean that Haden’s age isn’t an issue though. The veteran is set to play this season at the age of 32. For the cornerback position, that certainly is up there, so committing even a short-term deal to Haden at his age is a risk.

While Haden has never been an elite athlete, he seemed a step or two slower than he had been in previous seasons. Though still sharp in coverage, athletic receivers seemingly beat him on the regular for most of last year.

This was evident in his yards per completion rising almost three whole yards per reception last year, from 11.1 yards per completion in 2019 to 14 in 2020. His rating wasn’t bad (75.9 is a fine number), but he struggled to cover deep threats in games. Add in his injury history (a thing that never gets better with age) and signing Haden to a new deal is a risky bet.

One way to supplement that is to switch his position around and make him more of a safety. Recent Hall of Famer Charles Woodson prolonged his career by four seasons when he did this. The issue is, Haden also said that he wasn’t willing to make that positional shift at this point. If age continues to slow him down and keep him injured, signing him to an extension would be a bad choice.