This isn’t exactly news, nor it is surprising, but it’s been put out there, so we might as well talk about it. per Josh Alper for Pro Football Talk, Dale Lolley recently reported for DK Pittsburgh Sports that, as of this moment, the Pittsburgh Steelers and 10th-year cornerback Joe Haden are not making any movement on a possible contract extension.
Haden, who was released by the Cleveland Browns after seven seasons in August of 2017, immediately signed a three-year contract with the Steelers by the end of the same day. The contract was worth $27 million in total and paid a base salary of $10 million in the second and third seasons.
He is now in that third season and has proven to be the best player that the team has had in that secondary over the course of the past two years, becoming the first player really since Ike Taylor that the team has asked to shadow a specific opposing receiver with regularity, and without much help.
The Steelers’ signing of Haden was done well before it became clear that 2016 first-round cornerback Artie Burns would turn out to be a bust, so his continued tenure with the team is even more important now than it was when he was first brought in.
Burns, a true junior out of Miami, who was just 20 when he was drafted, began his rookie season by seeing a smattering of snaps as a dime defender, before graduating to the nickel after a few games. After being moved to a starting role halfway through the year, his play picked up, and he recorded three interceptions as the team advanced to the AFC Championship Game, the furthest they had gotten since 2010.
Things didn’t pick up where they left off, however. The habits that the team hoped Burns would have grown out of remained in his second season, as he had an up-and-down year, responsible for giving up some big plays. 2018 was even worse, to the point where they demoted him after just two games, and benched him almost entirely after six. He is now fighting for a roster spot he very well may not get.
Since then, the team has used two third-round picks and a fifth-round pick on the position, drafting Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen in 2017 and then, most recently, Justin Layne. If Layne doesn’t develop into anything, it’s very hard to imagine the team being able to allow Haden to leave after this season.
In fact, the Steelers appear to be so well aware of their difficulties drafting and developing at the position that, in 2019, their starting cornerbacks are going to consist entirely of free agents, the other being Steven Nelson, whom they signed to a three-year deal in March. His and Haden’s are the largest contracts the team has ever given out to players they didn’t draft or develop.
Oh, and by the way, the fact that there is no movement on contract talks during the week of Independence Day is pretty unimportant. Training camp is when extension talks actually begin to heat up. Haden said several weeks ago that he is “ready” for extension talks, but that none had taken place.