Former Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden will sign a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Browns, his agent told Adam Schefter of ESPN on Wednesday morning.
Haden, 33, was drafted by the Browns in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and played the first seven years of his NFL career in Cleveland. After being released by the Browns in 2017, Haden signed with the Steelers as a free agent and played his final five seasons in Pittsburgh. Haden was not offered a new contract by the Steelers when he became a free agent in March.
The Browns and Steelers play each other at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium on Thursday night. Cleveland.com reported that Haden will be honored at a Browns game later this season.
Haden became a starter for Cleveland in 2010 after being drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Florida and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team in his first NFL season.
Haden was quickly recognized as one of the top players and leaders on a Cleveland defense that dealt with significant turmoil in his time with the Browns. Cleveland fired head coach Eric Mangini after Haden’s first season, and he had five head coaches and five defensive coordinators over his seven seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.
After the Browns finished 1-15 in 2016 under Hue Jackson, Haden was a surprise release by the Browns late in training camp on Aug. 30.
“Joe gave everything he had for the Cleveland Browns and that’s all you can ask for as a coach,” Jackson said in a statement. “He was a leader on and off the field. I wish him all the best as he continues his career.”
Haden’s contract and frequent injuries were seen as reasons for the release. He played all 16 games in a season just once for the Browns and missed 11 games in 2015 and three in 2016.
The Steelers signed Haden not even 24 hours later, and he immediately stabilized the Pittsburgh cornerback position which had struggled to find a No. 1 man since the retirement of Ike Taylor after the 2014 season.
Haden started 67 gams over five seasons in Pittsburgh and made the Pro Bowl in 2019 to go along with two Pro Bowl nods from his time in Cleveland in 2013 and 2014.
Injuries continued to be an issue in Haden’s time in Pittsburgh, again playing a full season just once in 2019. He missed six games in 2021.
The Steelers replaced Haden with free agent cornerback Levi Wallace this offseason.