It’s been more than seven months since former Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden played his last game for the black & gold, immediately after which: he tweeted about his love for Steelers Nation; and indicated that he planned to continue playing in the NFL. Yet the three-time Pro Bowler, now 33 years of age, remains unsigned and has seemingly attracted little attention in free agency.
But according to an August 29 report by Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, the Steelers reached out to Haden in the recent past to gauge his interest in returning to Pittsburgh and “he had none,” said Kaboly.
Not long afterwards, Haden replied to a tweet addressing the report and called the report “Fake news!! They got Drew Rosenhaus’ number,” making reference to his agent.
It certainly makes sense that the Steelers would have interest in having Haden back, albeit at the right price. Cam Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon and free agent acquisition Levi Wallace are the top 3 cornerbacks, with Arthur Maulet set to serve as the nickel corner. That leaves former third-round pick Justin Layne and former undrafted free agent James Pierre as the less-than-enviable options for the No. 5 cornerback.
Haden would certainly be a significant upgrade over Pittsburgh’s current depth cornerbacks, though he’s not a candidate for special teams. It’s also possible that he doesn’t want to play if he isn’t a starter — and isn’t earning starter money.
At one point in the offseason, he hinted at a possible return to the Cleveland Browns, who selected him No. 7 overall in the 2010 Draft out of the University of Florida. He also got a new Steelers-Browns tattoo during the offseason, which was widely panned on social media, with one NFL fan referring to it as an “abomination.”
If it turns out that Haden has already played his last NFL game, he will have appeared in 158 career games over 12 seasons with the Browns and Steelers. He has been credited with 615 total tackles, plus 29 interceptions, 155 passes defensed and three sacks, as per Pro Football Reference.
If nothing else, it ought to be interesting to see how Pittsburgh’s secondary fares without Haden. As I pointed out in January 2022, the Steelers were 20-6-1 in games in which Haden was in the lineup in 2020-21, but just 1-7 when he was unavailable due to illness or injury.
Monday Roster Cuts
Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon news began leaking out about Pittsburgh’s impending roster cuts, with defensive back Linden Stephens being the first name to surface.
The Steelers originally signed Stephens in October 2021 and brought him back on a Reserve/Futures contract in January 2022.
Shortly after that, Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network indicated that the Steelers are waiving pass rusher Ron’Dell Carter, who joined the team on August 8 to replace fellow linebacker T.D. Moultry, who was waived injured.
And after that, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that the Steelers have cut tight end Jace Sternberger, a former Packers third-round pick who originally signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad in November 2021 in the wake of Eric Ebron’s season-ending knee injury.