Longtime cornerback Joe Haden announced his retirement earlier in the week, hanging up his cleats after a twelve-year career. Though he’s at peace with his decision, he says throughout the offseason, he had a desire to keep playing. But his conditions were specific and not met, leading to his decision to move on with life’s work. Haden joined Rich Eisen on The Rich Eisen Show Friday to discuss retirement.
“I didn’t plan on it, honestly,” Haden said of retiring. “I was training, working out this whole offseason, ready to sign. I wanted to sign with a contender. I wanted to play in LA…or go to Buffalo because I feel like they have a solid chance to win.”
Haden says his ties to California, he lives in Encino, created the desire to play for either the Chargers or Rams. Moving cross-country would only happen if he could play for a contending team like the Bills, a Super Bowl favorite, and even then, it didn’t make sense financially.
“I wanted to play but they were offering me league-minimum deals. I was like, ‘do I really want to move my family when I had a great career?'”
Haden doesn’t specify exactly what teams were offering him deals but they clearly weren’t enough to entice him to keep playing. While he was a rock solid corner, it was clear he had lost his speed and repeatedly shot down the idea of moving to the slot or playing safety, two moves outside cornerbacks often make to extend their career.
Haden added that spending time with family while a free agent showed him a new perspective on life, saying he was comfortable and enjoyed being with his wife and kids and not hyper-focused on the rigorous NFL schedule. Throughout his career, Haden was only ever a free agent for literal hours, released by the Browns August 30th only to sign with the Steelers later that day. This offseason, he was a free agent for months and chose to hang up his cleats instead of trying to gut out one more year in the NFL.
His desire to play for a contender was a logical one. Despite a strong career, Haden never won a playoff game and played in only two of them, 2017 and 2021 Wild Card losses with the Steelers. He missed the team’s 2020 Wild Card loss against the Browns due to being placed on the Reserve/COVID list. He and former teammate OT Joe Thomas are two of the longest-tenured players in NFL history never to win a playoff game. But that doesn’t take away one bit from Haden’s tremendous career. And there’s no love lost with the Browns. He told Eisen he’ll sign his one-day contract to retire with Cleveland for the team’s Monday night Halloween game against the Cincinnati Bengals Week 8.
Check out the whole interview with Eisen below.