The Cleveland Browns are a team in transition with eyes on turning over a roster that has lost 28 games in the last two seasons.
Part of their battle includes placing various change-of-scenery types on the trading block, many of whom were brought in by previous administrations. Mary Kay Cabot reports the team was “aggressively shopping” two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden before he was released Wednesday morning, and is still possibly looking to deal 2015 first-round pick Cameron Erving, a right tackle who is still on his rookie contract, but struggled with handling responsibilities at center last season and is currently week-to-week with a calf injury.
Upon his release, Haden becomes the most accomplished free agent on the market. Further, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Haden won’t be subject to the NFL’s waivers process, meaning he can sign with any team after 3 p.m. CT … and Schefter expects he will. And why wouldn’t he? Haden’s agent Drew Rosenhaus says there is “tons of interest” in his client, while Ian Rapoport of NFL Network notes a championship-caliber team could sign Haden for a bargain because the Browns are still paying $4 million on his contract.
Haden made back-to-back Pro Bowl trips in 2013 and 2014, but has missed 14 games with injuries in the last two seasons. Pro Football Focus has the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the two worst of Haden’s career, with grades of 31.8 and 46, respectively. Even still, Haden, just 28, has a track record of success and could still have some prime years as a top-notch cornerback.
The Bears aren’t the championship-level team Rapoport referenced earlier, and Schefter has already noted the interest already shown by the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints. But on the surface, Haden fits the kind of profile GM Ryan Pace targeted in this most recent offseason. It’s not as if Pace hasn’t proven to be aggressive this time of the year, plucking guard Josh Sitton off the free agent market after his release by the Green Bay Packers last summer.
Even though the Bears have revamped their secondary, you really can’t ever have enough defensive backs when your team plays in the NFC North. Not when high-octane passing offenses led by Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are always lurking. And if Prince Amukamara’s ankle injury is a long-term problem, it makes Haden more of a fit.
Stay tuned on this one.