As the November 2 NFL trade deadline approaches, rumors continue to swirl around the league. One of those rumors is Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden being dealt to the Dallas Cowboys.
Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine noted in an October 13 column that America’s Team’s porous secondary needs veteran leadership that Haden could offer, suggesting the three-time Pro Bowler as one of three defenders the Cowboys “should” trade for.
Not so fast, says Sports Illustrated’s Cowboys reporter Mike Fisher. A team source told Fisher that there’s no validity to the rumor, even despite Dallas showing interest in Haden in 2017 “at the right price.”
“The Cowboys are not presently pursuing such a trade and have not engaged in conversation with the Steelers about Haden,” Fisher wrote on October 15.
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Haden’s Future in Pittsburgh
The Steelers would be lucky to get something in return for Joe Haden, whether a player or a draft pick. Haden, 32, came to Pittsburgh five seasons ago when the Cleveland Browns cut ties with their Pro Bowler, and he’s set to become a free agent in March 2022.
Despite Haden’s pleas for a contract extension, the regular season kicked off without one. “Obviously, I want to stay here,” Haden said in a press conference on August 23. “(It’s) the organization, the staff, coach (Mike Tomlin). I don’t have too much more to say on it, but you know where I want to be.”
Haden doubled back a couple of weeks later, saying that he would rather test free agency instead of an extension. Moments after his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN that his agent wants to “play out the market and see what the market holds,” Haden posted #LastDance on Twitter (per Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).
The Steelers typically keep quiet around the trade deadline. They were buyers, not sellers, in their last in-season trade for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2019. Fitzpatrick is up for an extension after this season, and that will be the team’s priority in 2022.
Haden Makes Bank in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary only got better with Joe Haden in it, and they paid him accordingly. If the team lets him walk in free agency — as it sounds like they will — a giant hole will need filling. Haden is the NFL’s third highest-paid cornerback, per Spotrac, with a cap hit of $15.575 million, behind Miami Dolphins’ Byron Jones and Cincinnati Bengals’ Trae Waynes.
Haden and the Steelers’ defensive backfield will be put to the test on October 17 against the visiting (2-3) Seattle Seahawks. Though the team is without quarterback Russell Wilson, Geno Smith is no slouch, especially considering he has one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL — D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett — at his disposal.
Smith, selected 39th overall by the New York Jets in 2013, played well versus the Los Angeles Rams in relief of Wilson. Fresh off the bench, Smith went 10-for-17 for 131 yards, one touchdown and one interception (per Pro Football Reference).
Through four games, the Steelers have allowed 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns from opposing quarterbacks (per Pro Football Reference).