This is the time of year when some big names hit the open market. It may happen frequently in the next few days as NFL teams set the initial 53-man rosters by Saturday’s deadline. The first big name to be set free was Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden.
The Browns cut him Wednesday, a day after reports of them trying to trade him surfaced. Obviously, Cleveland had trouble finding a trade partner. Haden will likely not have an issue finding work now that he is on the open market. Several teams are expected to vie for him. He should have a robust, fast market. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN he believes Haden will be in a new uniform by Thursday.
Cornerbacks are at a premium and Haden has been a good one. But he has been oft injured – he has missed 14 games in the past two seasons – and his skills are not at his peak. The Browns owe him $4 million this season, so he will be affordable for teams. Because of Haden’s reputation, the need around the league and his relatively inexpensive cost, there will be competition for his services.
Here is a look, in alphabetical order, at some of the teams that could make a run at Haden after he is officially released at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday:
Dallas: ESPN reported the Cowboys would be interested. This makes sense. The Cowboys are going to be a contender and they need all kinds of defensive help. The interest could be mutual. Haden would probably smile at the idea of wearing the star after all those blank years with the Browns. This is a team to watch.
Indianapolis: Vontae Davis is out for several weeks, so there is a need now. But it’s not a long-term issue and the Colts are not going anywhere this year. So, this pairing may not make much sense in the long run.
Kansas City: This is an interesting one. There have been reports the Chiefs will make a run at Haden to try to put him opposite ballhawk Marcus Peters. Andy Reid is aggressive and the Chiefs want to win now. This could be a real fit.
Miami: The Dolphins are as needy for cornerback help as any team in the league. If they make an aggressive offer to the Miami-based Rosenhaus (he is connected with every NFL team, but he obviously has long Dolphins ties) it could intrigue Haden, who played at Florida.
New England: Can Bill Belichick ever be counted out when it comes to adding a talented vet?
New Orleans: The Saints also are reportedly interested in Haden. They have a need. Money talks.
Oakland: The Raiders could use an upgrade and Haden may be intrigued by their chances to win. However, there may be teams who take a bigger run at him. Still, a pursuit is possible.
Philadelphia: The Eagles would probably be interested, but other teams may want him more.
Pittsburgh: This is the reportedly early lender in the clubhouse. There’s lots of Haden smoke coming out for the Steel City. It makes sense. The Steelers were rumored to want Haden in a trade previously. They have a need at cornerback. He would complete a pretty good defense. The idea of playing in Pittsburgh would very likely appeal to Haden after seven years of getting drummed by Pittsburgh. He’d go from worst to first in the AFC North. The Haden line forms behind the Steelers.
San Francisco: The 49ers are reportedly interested. If he goes from the Browns to the 49ers, he still has money on his mind.
Washington: The Redskins don’t really need a starter, but Haden is from Maryland, so perhaps the Redskins will be on his list.