Why the Browns released Joe Haden
While Joe Haden was one of the Browns’ longest tenured players, an all-pro cornerback, and a leader in the locker room, the Cleveland Browns still decided to release the two-time Pro Bowl corner just a week before the start of the regular season. Why did one of the NFL’s worst teams choose to let go such a valuable player? The answer: Haden’s declining play and fat contract.
Haden’s play has steadily declined since his second Pro Bowl appearance in 2014. Over the past two seasons, Haden has missed 14 games due to injury. In 2015, the cornerback played in just five games. On top of that, Haden had a $14 million cap hit this season, and it did not make much sense for a rebuilding team to pay such a large amount to an injury-prone player with declining productions. Furthermore, Cleveland has faith in the other cornerbacks on their roster. Jason McCourty is a seasoned veteran on an inexpensive contract, Jamar Taylor is a solid player entering his fifth NFL season, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun is an improving young player who showed lots of promise as a rookie last season.
With that being said, Joe Haden is still a good, starting-caliber cornerback who will be signed by another team very quickly, likely within the next day or two. After a couple of down seasons in Cleveland, a change of scenery could do wonders for Haden and help him get back to playing like the all-pro corner he was a few seasons ago.
Potential Landing Spots
New Orleans Saints – The Saints are one of two teams that have very strong interest in Joe Haden according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Last season, the Saints had arguably the worst secondary in the league. They already made one move this offseason to address the secondary by drafting cornerback Marshon Lattimore in the first round. Haden would certainly be a welcome addition to the Saints, as they still need another cornerback to line up opposite Lattimore. Furthermore, the Saints could bring in Haden to mentor Lattimore, as Haden is an experienced veteran and would be a great locker room presence.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs are the other team Adam Schefter reported to have serious interest in Joe Haden. The Chiefs already have one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks in Marcus Peters, but could use some depth behind him. Haden could step in and help instantly, and together with Marcus Peters, the Chiefs could have one of the league’s best cornerback duos.
Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles had one of the league’s worst secondaries last season, and while they did make some upgrades this offseason, they could still use some help. The Eagles have lots of young cornerbacks on their roster in Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, and Rasul Douglas, who could benefit greatly from having a veteran leader and mentor like Joe Haden in the locker room. The Eagles could very well pounce if the price is right, but they will not bite if Haden’s price tag is too high, as they have limited cap space. Not to mention, key players such as Tim Jernigan and Alshon Jeffery will be free agents at season’s end.
Green Bay Packers – The Packers’ cornerbacks struggled greatly last season and their secondary could still use some improvement if the Packers want to contend this season. The addition of an all-pro corner is exactly what the Packers need. Davon House is not going to fix the Packers’ coverage issues, and young cornerbacks Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, and Kevin King could benefit greatly from Joe Haden’s veteran presence. Haden could help the young guys improve while shoring up a secondary that gave up too many big plays last season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Bucs already have very solid starting corners in Vernon Hargreaves and Brent Grimes, but have no depth behind them. It certainly does not help that Grimes is already 34 years old and injury prone. If Haden winds up in Tampa Bay, he will provide valuable secondary depth and give the Bucs one of the best cornerback trios in the league. The Bucs are looking to compete this year and make their way back to the playoffs after a long absence, and adding Haden to their defense will certainly make that goal more attainable.
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