Joe Haden was not voted, outright, into the Pro Bowl for the 2019 season. He was, however, selected as an alternate, and will participate in the game. And there is a reasonable argument to be made that he should have been a Pro Bowler, anyway, with the caveat that some of his biggest moments may have come after much or even all of the voting had already concluded.
A 2010 top 10 pick by the Cleveland Browns, the cornerback has now been with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past three years, and just turned in not just his best performance in the black and gold, but his best in several years. His five interceptions, for example, are the second-most in his career.
Ordinarily, the Pro Bowl begins to mean less and less the deeper you get into your career, especially if you have already made a couple. Haden made the Pro Bowl twice fairly early on, but not in some time. And given what had transpired since then, to get the call that he will be in the game this year meant a lot to him, as he told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Between my first one and this one, honestly it’s so tough, but I think I’ll take this one”, he said in trying to decide while Pro Bowl selection means more to him. He admitted that he “broke down a little bit” when he got a phone call from Omar Khan informing him that he would be in the game this year.
A seven-year starter for the Browns, Haden’s time toward the end of his tenure in Cleveland had largely been overshadowed by injuries. This ultimately resulted in the team releasing him in August of 2017. By the end of the same day, the Steelers had him under contract.
“I’ve been working so hard. When I got released from Cleveland, everyone thought I was finished”, he said. “I knew myself I was not healthy. I knew if I was healthy I would perform at a high level. All the rehab, all the training, it showed this year. I have a lot of years left”.
At the least, he has two more years left under contract with the Steelers after signing a two-year extension shortly before the regular season began. The team gave him quite a handsome sum, $22 million in new money, including nearly $17 million fully guaranteed within three days of signing. It’s one of the most significant contracts the team has ever given in terms of percentage of guarantees.
Partnering with Steven Nelson at cornerback, signed in free agency, and then a pair of young safeties in Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, Haden is perhaps in the best position he has ever been in his career relative to secondary talent, and you can tell that he is glad to be a part of it.