Joe Haden is very likely to leave the Steelers in the 2022 offseason. Here are five potential replacements the team could explore.
The Steelers didn’t quite get the dominant defense they were hoping for like they did in years past, but this group still proved to be good enough to help earn them a playoff berth. However, Joe Haden’s impact on the team seemed much smaller this year than it typically does.
In addition to missing five games due to injury, Haden failed to record an interception in the 12 games he did play this year. Prior to the start of the season, Haden’s agent reached out to the Steelers about a contract extension but declined to oblige.
Haden subtly said his goodbyes on social media before the 2021 season began, and he is very likely to look for a change of scenery in 2022. Here are five potential replacements Steelers could find for Joe Haden this offseason:
Ahkello Witherspoon, Steelers
This is the most obvious replacement for Haden, as Ahkello Witherspoon is literally a member of the team. However, the veteran cornerback has an expiring contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
Still, with how impressive he has been since Week 12, Witherspoon is a name that needs to be at the top of the Steelers free-agent wish list. Despite a very slow start in which Witherspoon didn’t see more than 4 total defensive snaps until Week 11, he was spectacular down the stretch for the Steelers. On the season, he allowed just a 34.9 passer rating while earning 3 interceptions in his final five games.
Witherspoon is still just 26 years old with terrific length and athletic traits to be a top outside cornerback for this team, and he has graded out as a top-ten cornerback in two straight seasons now, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s a top candidate to permanently replace Joe Haden in 2022.