While most of the ‘business’ of an NFL team during training camp takes place on the field, there is actual business that happens in the offices as well. It’s the primary time that teams work out contract extensions with some of their core players before heading into the regular season.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, arguably the top thing on their offseason-wide ‘to do’ list is getting an extension done with superstar edge rusher T.J. Watt. That is what they are working on now, which will hopefully be done in the next one to two weeks. But he’s not the only one who is hoping to get an extension done.
Joe Haden, who is already playing one on extension that he signed with the team a couple of years ago, wants to enter the regular season under contract beyond the 2021 season, he told The Athletic recently in a one-on-one interview. But he understands there’s a queue, and he’s not first in it.
“I would rather have a contract (for) more than this year because I want to end my career here”, he told Mark Kaboly when asked if he cared that he was in the last year of his deal. “We will see what happens, but we want to get T.J. Watt signed first, obviously. He’s the main priority”.
A former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns back in 2010, Haden first signed with the Steelers in August of 2017, on the same day that Cleveland cut him loose. He signed a three-year, $27 million contract at that time, and then inked a two-year, $22 million extension heading into the 2019 season.
Now he is playing under the final year of that extension, due to make $7 million in base salary, but with a substantial cap hit of $15,575,000 due to prior bonuses. That extension included a signing bonus of $13.8 million.
Haden has been both a performer and a leader since he arrived in Pittsburgh. He has started 56 games over the past four seasons, recording 200 tackles, 10 interceptions, 48 passes defensed, and two forced fumbles, with one defensive touchdown. He made the Pro Bowl in 2019 with five interceptions and 17 passes defensed.
The secondary has changed around him this year, however, with Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton done. Cameron Sutton will take over for Nelson on the outside, while it’s looking like Antoine Brooks Jr. is the primary slot candidate, though that remains in flux.
Now 32 years old, it’s obviously difficult to say how much longer Haden could conceivably play, but he has already adapted well to losing a half a step or so from his earlier playing days, learning how to get in position through tape study and technique. What that is worth when it comes to contracts, I’ll like Omar Khan decide.