The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be undergoing more and more change every offseason. The 2021 season brought about quite a bit of very prominent turnover. None will match the shift at quarterback going into the 2022 season as Ben Roethlisberger retires. But there is still a laundry list of prominent free agents they’ll have to sort through in the coming months.
One of the biggest questions is the case of Joe Haden, the 12th-year veteran cornerback, soon to be 33 years old in April, a player who has gone on record in saying that he wants no part of the slot or playing at safety. He believes he is a full-time boundary corner, and isn’t particularly interested in anything else.
He’s still playing above the line when he is available, for the most part, and he adds a lot of hidden value that nobody on the outside would be exposed to. One thing we do know is that if the locker room took a poll about how important it was to bring Haden back, the results would sway heavily in favor of the direction of ‘very damn important’.
In fact, Cameron Heyward, who was very vocal in helping to push Tyson Alualu to re-sign with the Steelers in 2021 after having agreed to a deal to go back to the Jacksonville Jaguars, may be gearing up for another campaign this offseason to keep guys like Haden in the fold.
“Joe is a guy, ever since he got here, I’ve just been appreciative of him”, he said on Sunday night, following the postseason loss. “A lot of unknown [going into free agency], but a guy like Joe Haden, he brings so much to the team that people don’t even see during the week of practice, getting guys up to speed, making sure, collectively, we are good on the back end. I would love to have Joe back, but that’s not my decision”.
Haden said during training camp that he would love to sign an extension that would keep him in Pittsburgh for the remainder of his career, but he knew that he would have to wait in line behind T.J. Watt to get his deal done.
After it became apparent that the Steelers would not be negotiating with him, he, through his agent, changed his tune and talked about being excited to test the unrestricted free agency market for the first time in his career (he was cut in August of 2017 when Pittsburgh picked him up).
After Sunday’s game, he tweeted out to the fans, thanking them for all of their love and support, ending with the line, “We will see what the future holds!”. It is by no means clear what the team’s plans are regarding Haden, however, as we sit here today.