The Pittsburgh Steelers have a number of prominent players on their roster who are set to play out the final year of their current contracts, among them Bud Dupree, Javon Hargrave, Sean Davis, and Joe Haden. The latter, entering the final year of a three-year contract that he signed under two years ago, recently turned 30, but has been clearly the best defensive back for the secondary over the past two seasons.
Haden’s three-year, $27 million contract that he received from the front office in August of 2017 remains the single largest contract ever given to an outside free agent, either in terms of per-year average or total money. Steven Nelson signed a three-year, $26.5 million contract earlier this year, two sequences of cap inflation later, that still came in lower than Haden’s.
So what would it cost to extend Haden now? Would it be worth doing? According to former General Manager Michael Lombardi, he thinks that the Steelers would be better served by allowing the veteran to play out the final year of his contract, as he told 93.7 The Fan.
I think, you know, the one thing the Steelers and the Patriots have proven is they’re not afraid to let guys play it out and see where it goes. I’d let him play it out. I love Joe. Joe’s a competitor, he’s long-armed. I think he’s got to prove he’s in great shape, he can still run. And when they get into man-to-man situations, I think the speed of the Steelers defense is gonna be vastly improved, and when they get into that, he’s got to be able to play as a shutdown corner and shut down receivers, and I think he’s got to show it to you.
It’s true that Haden has shown some ‘senior moments’ over the course of the past season that indicate that he is not quite the same athlete that he was at the start of his career, though he never had elite speed. He has talked about this earlier this offseason, but explained that he has learned how to make up for it.
The former Pro Bowl also does keep himself in great shape, and if you follow him on social media, you still see indications of that. He had very little idle time in the offseason, often beginning training shortly after the previous season has concluded.
But how much tread is left on Haden’s tires? Extending him now will get you a cheaper price than competing on the open market in March, but that’s assuming that he continues to play at a high level. If he does not, he won’t be worth the price.