After aggressively trying to trade him, the Browns have released former Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden.
Haden was selected seventh overall by the Browns in 2010 and was a very good player to start his career. He made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014 and was named second-team All-Pro in 2013. He was solid in 2012 as well, but was ineligible for Pro Bowl consideration due to a four-game suspension after testing positive for Adderall.
Since 2014, however, he has not been the same player and is now more of a big name than he is a solid football player.
The past 2 seasons he has given up 72 catches on 110 throws into his coverage, 1059 yards and 10 touchdowns while notching just 3 INTs.
— Josh Liskiewitz (@PFF_Josh) August 30, 2017
Last season, Haden allowed 48 catches on 79 pass attempts for 672 yards and six touchdowns. He recorded three interceptions, but also surrendered 232 yards after the catch. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 97.7 when throwing in Haden’s direction. Out of 110 qualified cornerbacks, Haden was the 88th ranked player according to Pro Football Focus.
Haden was also a very expensive player. He was owed $33 million over the next three seasons, which is another reason why the Browns had so much trouble dealing him. Per Pro Football Talk, Cleveland tried to get Haden to take a pay cut and he declined.
A more interesting note on Haden’s contract, however, is that he is guaranteed $4 million, which is being eaten by Cleveland at the moment. Despite his flaws, Haden is only 28 and had shown that he can play, so he had a very good market and teams are willing to take a risk on him if he bounces back. If a team signs Haden for less than $4 million, Cleveland will be forced to eat the remaining amount, but given his current market, it isn’t inconceivable that he lands a larger deal. Pittsburgh, Dallas, Miami, Kansas City and New Orleans are all reportedly interested in Haden.
At this point of his career, however, Haden isn’t able to cover the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver, and I am not sold that he can cover the No. 2, but I think whoever signs him will rely on him to do so.
For Cleveland, Haden’s expensive contract and declining play was the writing on the wall that he was no longer a player for their future. The Browns are still in the middle of a rebuild and the team valued the roster spot and cap space next year over Haden’s on-field play as they no longer see him as a person who would be a viable option when they are ready to compete again. If he winds up rebounding next season, it’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow, but it was a move that in the end was necessary.