One of the biggest question marks the Pittsburgh Steelers had coming into training camp was the quality of their secondary. The Steelers brought in several players through free agency and the draft to compete for a spot on the roster, but it looks as though none of those players turned out to be what Pittsburgh was looking for. Luckily, the Steelers were gifted the player the type of player they wanted after the Cleveland Browns cut Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden.
The Steelers made sure that they were the first to pounce on the ex-Brown immediately after his release. After a few short hours of rumors and negotiations, Pittsburgh officially signed Haden to a three year, $27 million contract which includes $7 million guaranteed in the first year of the deal.
The #Steelers are signing CB Joe Haden to a 3-year, $27m contract, source said. $7m guaranteed in year 1.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 30, 2017
There’s a lot to like and dislike about this move. The Steelers clearly needed help in the secondary and addressed that need with one of the best players at his position. Haden is a proven shutdown cornerback after all, and he has two Pro Bowl selections to his name.
The big red flag though is Haden’s recent injury history. The newly-minted Steeler has only played 18 total games over the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries that significantly affected the way he performed.
Joe Haden's coverage stats in 2016: 79 targets, 48 receptions, 672 yards, 6 TD – 3 INT, 97.7 passer rating, per https://t.co/IjgIBPXBGA
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 30, 2017
Despite his recent injury troubles, signing Haden was a move the Steelers had to make. The addition of Haden alongside second-year man Artie Burns creates a much-improved cornerback tandem in the Steelers defensive backfield and pushes the inconsistent Ross Cockrell into a reserve/slot corner role for the upcoming season.
It remains to be seen if Haden can turn things around now that he’s a Steeler, but sometimes a change of scenery can completely revitalize a player. If that turns out to be the case, the Steelers will have a cornerback capable of erasing opposing wideouts on a weekly basis. If he crashes and burns, the Steelers could easily cut Haden at the end of the season with a small financial penalty and the cap space to find a new top tier corner. Either way, the Steelers come out on top.
Mike Esposito is the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos Staff Writer at Endzonescore.com. Follow him on Twitter @espo6891