Joe Haden has been a staple to Pittsburgh’s defense since 2017, but here’s why the former Pro Bowler could be entering his final season with Steelers.
The Steelers 2021 offseason was chaotic enough before Joe Haden’s agent contacted the organization asking for a contract extension. This is one of the last things the team needs to worry about right now.
Pittsburgh landed Haden as a free agent in 2017 after being released by the Cleveland Browns, but the former first-round pick and Pro Bowl cornerback proved that he had a lot left in the tank. Unfortunately for him, the Steelers don’t seem to trust exactly how much gas is left in that tank, and the organization doesn’t plan to sign to an extension before the season starts this year, per Adam Schefter.
While the Steelers didn’t come right out and say that he wouldn’t be signed, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed that Haden has decided to play out the remainder of his contract and test the free-agent market in 2022 (when the salary cap is expected to increase significantly).
Haden didn’t fight back on this or release a statement as to why he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh. Rather, he sent out a cryptic tweet that many believe confirms his intent to depart after the 2021 season:
Steelers must prepare for a future without Joe Haden
Right now, Pittsburgh has much more pressing issues than worrying about what Joe Haden is going to do next offseason – like making sure they are able to get T.J. Watt signed to an extension, for example. However, it certainly seems like this team needs to start preparing for life without Joe Haden.
For the record, I think this is the right move. Rosenhaus held no leverage to ask this of the front office and was in no situation to ask for an extension for the veteran cornerback after an average season in 2021. I give the Steelers credit for not caving into this request.
Before next year’s draft, Haden will be 33 years old, and the Steelers would have to pay him good money for what he’s done for them in the past, rather than paying him like the player he will be in his mid-30s.
With the money they would have spent on a Haden extension, Pittsburgh could look for younger blood at the cornerback position in free agency next year, as there could be some quality names that potentially hit the market. It’s also possible that the team decides to look at this position early in the 2022 NFL Draft – especially considering how thin they already are at cornerback this year.
Joe Haden has been a staple to Pittsburgh’s defense, but historically, we have seen a rapid drop in play at age 32 for NFL cornerbacks – the age Haden currently is. I think it was a wise move for the Steelers to avoid an extension this year, but the team will soon need to start preparing for life without Haden in 2022.