The Buffalo Bills‘ revamped roster looks to be near-perfect heading into training camp, however, there’s always room for improvement. While the Bills filled one of their biggest holes by selecting cornerback Kaiir Elam with their first-round draft pick, Tre’Davious White’s return date remains a major question mark.
Back in April, Bills’ new superstar linebacker Von Miller admitted to reporters that he was urging Pittsburgh Steelers free agent cornerback Joe Haden to join him in Buffalo, and now it seems wide receiver Stefon Diggs is taking over the recruiting duties, as the three-time Pro Bowler remains unsigned.
ALL the latest Bills news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bills newsletter here!
On Wednesday, June 29, the 33-year-old cornerback reignited hope that he coule take his talents to Buffalo after posting workout photos with Diggs on Instagram. Haden captioned the post, “4ever locked in @stefondiggs! ALL love! #fromTheCrib.”
“Come to the Bills🤞🏻❤️,” one fan wrote in the comments, while another person simply asked, “Why you ain’t come to Buffalo?”
As for Diggs, not only did he comment on Haden’s post, “Gangggg,” but he also reposted one of the pictures on his Instagram stories, with a strong message to the veteran defensive stud: “Real Family… @joehaden,” with the praying hand’s emoji and a heart.
While Diggs could be praying Haden somehow finds his way to Buffalo, he could also just be grateful to have such a close friend to work out with during the NFL offseason. The two NFL stars, who both grew up in the DMV area, were spotted training together last summer, too.
The Bills Could Use an Experienced Veteran to Immediately Start Alongside Elam
Last week, ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg wrote in her 53-man roster projection, “With White continuing to rehab from a torn left ACL, the starting corner spots are currently occupied by Elam and [Dane] Jackson. How Elam progresses over the course of training camp will be a key storyline as he is set up to play a significant role.”
While the Bills also have Taron Johnson, Siran Neal, and Nick McCloud, they lost cornerback Levi Wallace in free agency, who was plucked by the Steelers, seemingly as Haden’s replacement. Wallace signed a two-year, $8 million contract with Pittsburgh, per Spotrac.com.
Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton urged the Bills to sign Haden last month as the final move to push the franchise over the top heading into the 2022 NFL season:
Haden is physical in run support and has thrived in Cover-2 and Cover 4-based schemes throughout his career. Buffalo varies its looks at the fourth-highest rate but provides plenty of help to its cornerbacks with two elite safeties… He may not start when White is back at his full capacity, but Haden provides much better depth than 2022 sixth-round pick Christian Benford.
While defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said he expects Elam to be ready to serve as a starter “right away,” having an experienced player like Haden on the field alongside the rookie could offer him invaluable guidance.
Wharton notes, “Expecting 2022 first-round pick Kaiir Elam to be ready for stardom in his first year is unrealistic.”
Can the Bills Afford Haden?
The Bills currently have just over $5.6 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.com, which means Haden would have to take a salary cut if he wanted to become Diggs’ teammate.
“Haden earned an average annual salary of $11.2 million on his last deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox reported on June 27, “and is still likely to command $7-9 million per year on the open market.
Aside from Haden’s age, there’s some concern over his injury history. Haden missed the Steelers’ home opener against the Las Vegas Raiders after suffering a groin injury in practice two days earlier, and then missed another four games with a mid-foot sprain suffered against the Detroit Lions in mid-November. The 5-foot-11 corner finished the 2021 NFL season with 26 solo tackles and 12 assisted, per Pro Football Reference.
However, if the former No. 7 overall pick from the 2010 NFL Draft wants a genuine shot at earning a Super Bowl ring, he may be willing to take a discount to join the Bills, a franchise which ESPN’s Ben Linsey ranked as the No.1 strongest team in the entire league on Wednesday, June 29.