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Cleveland Browns

Browns might have to bite bullet with Joe Haden

The Cleveland Browns might have to lie in the bed they made with cornerback Joe Haden. League sources are reporting that the Browns are “aggressively” shopping the two-time Pro Bowl performer on the trade market.

Finding a willing trade partner will be the tricky part, considering Haden’s inflated contract and rapid decline in play. What’s the point of spending top dollar on a player who hasn’t made the Pro Bowl in three years?

That’s the question the Browns’ front office is likely having to answer from teams around the league. The same reason why they want to get rid of Haden is the same reason why other teams won’t touch him. Unless some really desperate team comes along, it’s hard to believe anyone is going to willingly agree to take on the Browns’ mistake.

That is obviously referring to the five-year, $67.5 million contract extension Haden signed in 2014. Haden certainly isn’t void of talent. He was considered one of the top young corners in the league a few years ago. The last couple of seasons have been marred by injuries that have kept him sidelined for 14 games.

Sticking out like a sore thumb is an understatement when a player of Haden’s pedigree is on the Browns.

“Last year was probably the toughest year I’ve ever had,” Haden told Cleveland.com. “But it all comes around. God works in mysterious ways. I love the game so much that it’s tough from the outside looking in to see [people say], ‘Man, Joe, he’s hurt. He can never stay healthy.’ I’m not trying to be hurt. I’m not trying to not be out there helping my guys.”

Haden is coming off postseason groin surgery entering his eighth season in the NFL. It’s an added element to the ironclad list of reasons teams will already be hesitant to make this trade. Haden is due $11.2 million in 2017 wherever he ends up, and it wouldn’t be any surprise if it’s still with the Browns.

His absence would leave a huge hole a secondary composed of Jason McCourty, Jamar Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun as the primary corners. Obviously, the Browns aren’t a playoff contender, but they could still take some steps forward with Haden in a secondary that includes rookie safety Jabrill Peppers.

Now isn’t the time to throw in the towel on Haden, not when he’s only 28 years old, with a chance to get healthy. The 2017 season could easily turn into somewhat of a renaissance year for him if he can stay on the field. It might actually improve his trade value if the Browns wanted to revisit this option against next season.

If any team can afford overpaying for a player, it’s the Browns.

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