Joe Haden turned 30 years old in the middle April. As a cornerback, that is the age at which people start looking at you and wondering how much longer you have left. The cornerback position is not regarded in the same light as running back with respect to the average shelf life, but nevertheless, for a position so dependent upon speed and short-area mobility, age can certainly play a factor.
Haden, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top cornerback, is not feeling it. in fact, he appears to feel as good if not better than he has in years as he prepares to enter his 10th NFL season. Originally a top-10 draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2010, he is now in his third season in Pittsburgh and has been their most important player in the secondary since then.
The veteran was on The Rich Eisen Show yesterday speaking about a number of issues, and this was one that he just happened to weave his way into. Of the upcoming season, he said, “I’m just excited. This is my 10th year. I was always thinking like, when I get to 10, how I’m going to feel, how I’m going to do”.
Now that he’s there, he carries that wisdom, and the knowledge of what it takes to play at this level, at this age, along with him. Eisen asked him about it all, and what he’s taken away during that time.
“Just making sure I could stay healthy and making sure I could still run”, he said. “When you get 30 now, it’s crazy, they’re thinking like I’m extinct as a cornerback. But I still feel like I’ve got good feet, good hips, I’m locked in, I’m healthy, I’m six years married, got my wife here, two kids, so, life is good”.
Life is good, and it could get even better shortly if he and the front office manage to work out a contract extension in the coming weeks. While it is not apparent that discussions have yet gotten underway, he said earlier in the offseason that he was prepared for them to take place at any time.
The Steelers signed Haden to a three-year, $27 million contract a little under two years ago. He is entering the final year of his deal and set to make a base salary of $10 million. In theory, he could sign an extension that actually lowers his 2019 cap hit, which would be helpful.
The team did invest in the position this offseason, signing another free agent to start there in Steven Nelson. The former Kansas City Chiefs defensive back was brought in on a three-year, $26.5 million deal, slotted just behind Haden’s salary, despite being two salary cap inflation cycles later. They also used a third-round draft pick on Justin Layne out of Michigan State, though it’s unlikely he plays a significant role this year.