No one is happier to be in the playoffs than Joe Haden. And all it took was the Cleveland Browns giving up on him, assuming his career was over.
As many Steelers fans have uttered before: thank you Cleveland.
While Haden has always spoken highly of the people and fans of Cleveland and generally toed the line of not being a disgruntled ex-player, he did let a little honesty slip out in Greg Bishop’s deep dive into the locker room that focused around Ryan Shazier.
Haden recalls the Browns telling him they no longer viewed him as a top-five corner and said he needed to take a paycut to remain with the team. Haden refused and Cleveland promptly released him before the season began.
The decision-making left Haden scratching his head. As he told Bishop:
“They were going to pay Brock Osweiler $16 million and he’s not even on the team [after being signed and cut this summer], and they wanted to cut money from me!”
Entering his first ever playoff game, he’ll be the guy at corner, especially if Artie Burns misses. Burns avoided a serious injury but any knee injury this late in the week is going to threaten his availability. Haden has been one of the best things to happen to this Steelers’ secondary, heck this entire defense if you’re talking new acquisitions (T.J. Watt and Mike Hilton would like to have a word).
Speaking with reporters during the week, it felt as if Haden was still pinching himself. That he was sitting on his couch actually waiting for football in a week when historically, he was sitting on his couch at the end of another disappointing season.
“It was exciting. I was getting hyped. I had Mike [Mitchell] he came to the house with me and watched the game. It was just cool, knowing that we played them before. It’s good just knowing now who we’re going against. Being able to get out the film and try to change the result.”
He’ll get that chance in a few days. And the Steelers certainly need him to step up.