Though he is heading into his third season with the Pittsburgh Steelers since being signed in August of 2017, Joe Haden did spend the first seven years of his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns. They never had a winning season during that time, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t passionate about where he was.
And he still is. While participating in a charity softball event yesterday hosted by Jarvis Landry, Haden talked about how excited he is to finally see the Browns starting to turn things around, even though he has to directly play a part in trying to stop them.
He will probably be asked a lot to cover their biggest offseason acquisition, Odell Beckham, Jr., with whom he said he has been training in the offseason for the past three years. He spoke about how much the city’s fan base deserves to finally have a good team.
And he even lamented that it would have been “sweet” if the Browns of today could have been a reality before the two parties failed to resolve his contract situation back in August of 2017 instead of it resulting in his somewhat surprising release. He would go on to sign with the Steelers on a three-year deal before that day was even through.
“If you want me to be honest, yes”, he said when asked if he wished that they could have resolved their differences at the time. “It is what it is. With different GMs, different people switching in and out. Every year I was here, I always felt like this is gonna be the year, no matter who the quarterback was”.
“’He’s good enough to be a professional quarterback, he can make it happen for us’”, he would think, he said. “But shit happens. I’m not in any way upset”, he said but added “it would’ve been sweet” if they were able to put it all together while he was still there.
While he spoke fondly of Cleveland and of his former team, though, don’t mistake that for a division of loyalty, as he has fully embraced being a Steeler as much as the Steelers and their fans have embraced him being one of them.
The year after they released Haden, the Browns used the fourth-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Denzel Ward at cornerback, who would go on to have Pro Bowl season as a rookie a year ago. This April, they added Greedy Williams out of LSU in the second round, which was their first pick of the draft, and he seems to be on the path to starting.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have taken the opposite approach, finding their cornerbacks in free agency. Haden filled an urgent need in 2017, and now they’ve brought in Steven Nelson to pair with him.