Examining The Plausibility Of Another Joe Haden Contract Extension

Barring a huge surprise, the Pittsburgh Steelers will sign outside linebacker T.J. Watt to a long-term contract extension prior to Week 1 of the 2021 regular season. I would bet my house that will get done. Assuming Watt does ultimately sign a contract extension, will cornerback Joe Haden sign one as well before Week 1 arrives? It’s a question worth attempting to answer on the heels of the recent news that Haden hopes to sign one.

Let’s start with facts cornering Haden. First, he is now in the final year of his current contract and he’s scheduled to earn $7 million in 2021. His cap charge in 2021, however, is a robust $15.575 million as there is $8.575 million in signing bonus proration included in that amount. That $8.575 million is there to stay, by the way. Another fact is that Haden is now 32 years old.

Another known fact is that Haden’s last extension that he signed back in 2019 resulted in a new money average of $11 million. Currently, that $11 million new money average has him ranked 14th overall in the NFL when it comes to cornerbacks.

With Haden now hoping to sign another contract extension in the next month, what kind of new money average might he and his agent Drew Rosenhaus be angling for? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Haden and Rosenhaus are angling for a new new money average of $14 million, I reached out to former NFL agent Joel Corry and asked his thoughts, and he agreed he could see that being the case, as well.

Let’s however, assume that Haden and Rosenhaus don’t have their sights set on a $14 million or greater new money average. Instead, let’s assume that another deal with a new money average of $11 million would suffice. After all, he’s got to think he’s worth at least that still, right?

A two-year extension with a new money average of $11 million is exactly what Haden agreed to back in 2019. So, if he could the same deal again, it would total out at $29 million from 2021 through the 2023 season. Remember, Haden is already due $7 million in 2021, and that’s considered old money and then needs to be added to the $22 million in new money.

Haden’s last extension in 2019 had $10 million in old money included, and thus that extension totaled out at $32 million. As part of that last extension that Haden signed in September of 2019, he was given a $16.8 million signing bonus and base salary of $1.2 million. In short, Haden got $18 million in 2019, which was more than half (56.25%) than the total extension amount. His fully guaranteed amount, the $16.8 million signing bonus, was a little more than half the total extension amount of $32 million as well.

So, if Haden would settle for another two-year extension with another new money average of just $11 million, it would likely require at least a tiny more than 50 percent of the $29 million total being paid to him in 2021 in the form of a base salary and a signing bonus. Let’s say $15 million is that amount. With Haden knowing he wouldn’t be cut in the coming weeks, that $15 million he would likely get would need to include a signing bonus of at least $13.8 million and a new 2021 base salary of $1.2 million. Such a structure, which is more than reasonable for the Steelers to give on their part, would result in Haden’s new 2021 salary cap charge being $15.575 million, which is exactly what it is scheduled to be currently.

Now, can the Steelers get at least two more seasons, 2021 and 2022 out of Haden? That’s the big question. Such a deal based on the way I laid it out above, would result in Haden having a 2022 cap charge of $11.6 million. Should the Steelers need to cut him next offseason before paying any sort of roster bonus he might be due, they would incur a dead money charge of $9.2 million based on my example. Should the Steelers need to cut Haden after the 2022 season, a highly likely scenario, the dead money charge for doing so would be $4.6 million.

As you can see by the way I have laid things out, an extension can be done that appease both sides, and that’s only if the Steelers are almost positive that they can get two more quality seasons out of Haden. Remember, this example extension requires Haden accepting a new new money average of just $11 million, just like his last extension. If he wants a new money average higher than that, it would need to be made up outside of 2021’s money, which should be no more than $15 million. Basically, $6 million more as a base in 2023 and money he wouldn’t likely see.

Would I extend Haden based on my example I have laid out in this post? Man, it’s a tough call, but I would be inclined not to. We’ll see in the next four weeks what the Steelers think. An extension is doable, it’s just mighty risky on the Steelers side, however.

Layout Of Joe Haden Two-Year Contract Extension Example With $11 Million New Money Average ($13.8 Million Fully Guaranteed)

2021 $1,200,000 $14,375,000 $0 $15,575,000 $15,000,000
2022 $3,500,000 $4,600,000 $3,500,000 $11,600,000 $22,000,000
2023 $7,000,000 $4,600,000 $0 $11,600,000 $29,000,000
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