Haden cut by Browns, signs with Steel­ers

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Tom Withers The As­so­ci­ated Press

Joe Haden only needed a few hours to find a team that wanted him.

It’s a squad he’s very fa­mil­iar with.

Good­bye, Cleve­land. Hello, Pitts­burgh.

Cut ear­lier in the day by the Browns af­ter seven sea­sons, the two-time Pro Bowl cor­ner­back signed a three-year, $27 mil­lion con­tract Aug. 30 with the ri­val Steel­ers, who are giv­ing the 28-year-old a chance to ex­act some re­venge on a team that doesn’t think he can play any­more.

Haden passed his phys­i­cal and he’s now on the other side of a once-heated ri­valry that has be­come ut­terly lop­sided.

The Steel­ers posted a photo on Twit­ter of a smil­ing Haden sign­ing his con­tract.

The sight had to make the stom­achs turn of some Browns fans.

In seven sea­sons with Cleve­land, Haden went just 2-12 against the Steel­ers and his sign­ing will add some lus­ter to this sea­son’s opener when Pitts­burgh vis­its Cleve­land on Sept. 10.

In­stead of try­ing to cover An­to­nio Brown or in­ter­cept quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger, he’ll be team­mates with Big Ben and on a team with a le­git­i­mate chance at mak­ing the play­offs — or more.

Un­der the five-year, $67.5 mil­lion ex­ten­sion he signed with Cleve­land in 2014, Haden was due to make $11.1 mil­lion this sea­son, $11.2 mil­lion next year and $10.4 mil­lion in 2019. Re­leas­ing Haden cost the Browns $3.2 mil­lion in salary cap space this sea­son and next sea­son.

Haden played in just 18 games — he missed 11 in 2015 with a concussion — the past two sea­sons be­cause of in­juries, fighting to stay on the field each week last sea­son de­spite a se­ri­ous groin in­jury that re­quired off­sea­son surgery.

New de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Gregg Wil­liams and his staff didn’t view Haden as an as­set and will likely move vet­eran Ja­son McCourty into his start­ing spot along­side Ja­mar Tay­lor.

A for­mer Florida stand­out, Haden was one of Cleve­land’s most vis­i­ble play­ers. He of­ten at­tended Cava­liers games and sat court­side to cheer on LeBron James and his team­mates. Haden owned a sneaker store in down­town Cleve­land, hosted youth camps in North­east Ohio and in 2015 be­came the first pro­fes­sional foot­ball player to serve as a Spe­cial Olympics global am­bas­sador.

Haden ap­peared in 90 games for the Browns, start­ing 81. He compiled 376 tack­les, 101 passes de­fensed, 19 in­ter­cep­tions, forced four fum­bles and four re­cov­ered fum­bles. Last sea­son, he recorded 48 tack­les, 11 passes de­fensed and tied for a team high three in­ter­cep­tions.

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