In early August, Joe Haden’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he had approached the Steelers about reaching an agreement on a contract extension with his client. Rosenhaus told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback wanted to “finish his career with the Steelers if possible.”
Only a few weeks later, Haden’s future suddenly looks a lot different. Rosenhaus shared a new message with Schefter on Wednesday, saying that Haden will play out the final year of his contract and enter unrestricted free agency in 2022.
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“Joe has never been a UFA before and is excited about that opportunity,” Rosenhaus said. “We expect him to have a very strong market.”
Haden then tweeted out “#LastDance,” a reference to the ESPN documentary series “The Last Dance,” which chronicled Michael Jordan’s final season with the Bulls.
This could just be a tactic to bring Pittsburgh’s management back to the negotiating table, but the Steelers could really be preparing to part ways with Haden knowing that they will have to pay up for their other defensive stars. T.J. Watt could sign a massive new contract any day now, and Minkah Fitzpatrick will likely receive an extension offer in the near future.
Haden has been a key piece of the Steelers’ secondary since they signed him in 2017 — he has 10 interceptions and 48 passes defended in the past four years — but he is not nearly as important to the franchise’s future as Watt or Fitzpatrick. Additionally, he is 32 years old and heading into his 12th NFL season. Outside of Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh’s front office has been hesitant to hand out big checks to aging veterans.
There is a lot of time between now and next year’s free-agency period, though. Another strong campaign from Haden, and the Steelers may be willing to re-evaluate their stance.
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