Amid a rebuild, the Cleveland Browns made the decision to move on from veteran cornerback Joe Haden Wednesday.
The Browns reportedly asked Haden to take a pay cut from $11 million to $7 but the two could not agree on terms. The 28-year-old corner was entering the third year of his five years $68 million contract extension. Releasing Haden will cost the Browns $3.2 million in cap space for the next two seasons.
"We want to thank Joe for all he has done for this organization both on and off the field," Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown said in a statement. "He has been a great teammate and a true asset to the Cleveland community. These are very difficult decisions, we have the utmost respect for Joe and in my eyes, he will always be a Cleveland Brown."
Haden did not spend much time as a free agent, as he agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Haden will earn $7 million this year as part of the agreement.
Haden reportedly turned down offers from the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, and Dallas Cowboys but, Haden was intent on playing for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers open the season on the road against the Browns on September 10.
With the signing, Pittsburgh’s secondary has improved greatly. The Steelers were looking to find a starting cornerback to play across from 2016 first round pick Artie Burns. William Gay will likely be limited to slot corner duties.
Ross Cockrell played in 16 games for the Steelers last season but has been moved down the depth chart. Coty Sensabaugh has received reps from with the starters for most of training camp.
Looking at the rest of the roster, the Steelers are dealing with injuries to their secondary. Senquez Golson has been out sidelined since July 30 with a hamstring injury while Cameron Sutton returned from a hamstring injury and played well in the Steelers third preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Haden has had his fair share of injuries as well. In 2016, Haden missed three games and played with two groin issues that required postseason surgery. In 2015 Haden missed 11 games with a concussion and finger injury.
Haden has a lot to prove
Before the injuries, Haden was on his way to being one of the top tier cornerbacks in the league. After two lackluster years, he will have plenty to prove.
Last season, Haden allowed a 97.7 passer rating and six touchdowns in coverage. Haden ranked 88th of 110 qualifying cornerbacks per pro football focus.
Though he may not be the elite corner he once was, Haden could return to Pro Bowl form in 2017.