I’m not sure if Joe Haden has ever stopped smiling since he first arrived in Pittsburgh. Granted, he’s been paid handsomely to be here, even if never at the top of his position—and yes, skeptics, $11 million per season is fairly average for cornerbacks in 2019—but there can be little doubt that he has been very content as a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.
The 10th-year veteran has previously stated that he believed after the Cleveland Browns released him he would be retired at this point in his career. He certainly doesn’t need the money—prior to his most recent contract, he had already earned or was set to earn roughly $100 million in career earnings—but love of the game, and playing for a winner, help keep you going.
“I wanted to be here a lot”, he said in the locker room yesterday, via The Fan. “Just the locker room; I’ve got a lot of friends here, a lot of good relationships. I love the way the coaching staff is. I love the organization. I have a really good relationship with Coach [Tomlin]. So it’s definitely where I wanted to be to where I’m very happy that we were able to work it out”.
Haden originally signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Steelers at the end of August of 2017, the night that the Browns released him. He earned $17 million between base salary and signing bonus over the first two years.
His new deal superseded the final year of his previous contract, on which he was owed $10 million in base salary. It was torn up as part of a three-year, $32 million contract that will pay him $22 million in ‘new money’, including a pretty handsome signing bonus relative to the Steelers’ history of contract negotiations. But more on that later.
His contract status had been a subject of reports throughout the offseason, even relayed with bated breath back in July that there was no progress being made toward a deal, which should not have at all been surprising.
The Steelers tend to prefer to get their extensions done with non-quarterbacks during training camp and leading up to the start of the regular season. Getting it done early in the week of preparation for the first preseason game was hardly out of the ordinary, nor an indication of contentious negotiations, and he said that he never had any doubt that a deal would get done.
“I kind of know the way the Steelers do business”, he said. “It is what it is, and I’m glad we ended up just getting it done. I was prepared to wait until Friday, but it is what it is”.
Instead, he gets to focus on preparing for the New England Patriots all week knowing that he has a contract extending through the 2021 season, something that I’m sure both sides are feeling good about now.