The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Joe Haden will sign a contract extension of more than two years later this summer.
Explanation: Haden has clearly been the Steelers’ best cornerback, and defensive back overall, over the course of the past two seasons. He hasn’t been perfect, and age is starting to get to him, but it’s hard to imagine the secondary without him at this point for the veteran who recently turned 30, entering his 10th year.
Given the team’s struggles drafting and developing their own defensive backs, particularly cornerbacks, one would imagine that the team is interested in getting something locked in for a big more long-term than what they already had with Haden, which at this point seems to have gone by quickly.
30 is far from old for a savvy cornerback, and Haden is certainly that. He isn’t quite the same athlete that he once was—injuries played a part in that as well—but there is no reason to believe that a significant decline in athletic ability is imminent within the next couple of years.
If they don’t have Haden, then the odds are that they would have to go out and find somebody else, and as you might recall, Haden fell into their laps in 2017 in August, the one year that they actually had cap space. Don’t count on lightning striking twice.
Two years is the right number for an extension, and it’s the number the team has been throwing out this year, giving Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey each two-year extensions. That tends to be the figure that they give to older veterans, which gives them some flexibility in the cap without overly committing in duration.
A two-year extension, obviously, would give them three more years with Haden, including this season. He would be under contract through his age-32 season, and you certainly might want to hit the pause at that point and see where he is. heading into the 2021 season, of course, they could always work on another one-year extension if it makes sense at the time.