Pretty much any team with a need at cornerback – including the Carollina Panthers – should have been interested in Joe Haden.
Haden, cut by the Browns on Wednesday morning, agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday afternoon. He’s not the same player he was a few years ago when he made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014. But in a pass-happy league where it’s tough to find good corners, Haden did not stay unemployed long.
Haden made big money in Cleveland, and he’ll receive $4 million guaranteed from the Browns – with offsets, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
That means whatever the Steelers pay Haden is probably far less than $4 million, and the Browns are on the hook for the difference.
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The Browns cut Haden only after first trying to trade him and then asking him to take less money, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.
With fifth-round pick Corn Elder still out with a knee injury, the Panthers could stand to improve their depth at corner. The current backups to second-year starters Daryl Worley and James Bradberry are Captain Munnerlyn, the No. 1 nickel, and Zack Sanchez, who’s coming off a great game last week at Jacksonville.
And it’s not like Worley has had an outstanding preseason.
There’s no question Haden could have helped help the Panthers. But the more intriguing name for the Panthers is Broncos safety T.J. Ward, who has been the subject of trade talks in Denver.
I still think the Panthers’ biggest secondary need in the secondary is finding help behind starting safeties Kurt Coleman and Mike Adams. Special teams ace Colin Jones is the No. 2 free safety, while Adams’ backup at strong safety is L.J. McCray, who’s been sidelined with an injury.
Ward, 30, due to make $4.5 million in the final year of a four-year contract, was one of the heroes in the Broncos’ 24-10 win over the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Ward intercepted Cam Newton and also recovered a fumble in Santa Clara.
According to Rapoport, the Broncos have fielded calls and engaged in trade discussions with other teams concerning the two-time Pro Bowler. It’s unclear whether the Panthers were among the interested parties.
But if the Panthers are going to add a big name to their secondary, Ward seems makes more sense than Haden.